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Dealing With Rejection

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This topic contains 42 replies, has 19 voices, and was last updated by  jesusmontero 10 months, 1 week ago.

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    It’s the nature of the Business.

    I keep saying we should get a big bin for those little slips and emails that say “Unfortunately this time” because they are something we all experience.

    Failing a big bin, I’ve decided to collect mantras from working screenwriters or individuals who are successful in any field that requires repeated and continuous attempts to remind us “We get knocked down, but we get back up again.”.

    I seem to remember Michael Jordan saying he is a success because of his failures (sorry if I’ve misquoted you there, Michael).

    This past week in Scott’s GITS interview series, he spoke to Dana Coen (great interview by the way) and one of Dana’s mantras is

    It only takes one yes to neutralize a hundred no’s.


    • This topic was modified 1 year, 10 months ago by  TheQuietAct.


    As a writer, you will probably be rejected more times than you actually succeed – that is, if you include scripts that go into turnaround, movies that crash and burn on release, etc. So we all have to find a way to deal with it, especially at the beginning of our careers, where we may not have any successes yet to sweeten the pill.

    I think I was lucky: I’ve always just been stubborn. If someone rejects me, I go out and try even harder elsewhere, just to show them!  It does help…



    I agree with Debbie. A failure is like blood in the water to me, it makes me hungrier, faster, stronger and hellbent on attacking that elusive surfer known as success :)

    Success is great, but then I just move on to another project as quickly as the words congrats comes out of someone’s mouth. A failure allows me to stay on the project/story/concept longer and as an artist, challenge myself to chisel and polish the idea in another perception than that of my first instinct which can be blinded by passion.

    [I moved the second part of your comment into a thread of it’s own, here: The pros and cons of publishing your work online. ~Shaula the Threadsplitter]

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 10 months ago by  Shaula Evans. Reason: split comment

    Barbara Thomas

    In public, I try to keep up a thick skin – an exo-skeleton, really. In private, I have a pity party for one before moving on.

    I’m actually surprised at how downright nice so many people are when they tell you no.  If I’m being honest, I prefer an outright “NO” to the gentle let down. “You have a charming comedic voice but…I liked the relationship between the characters but…”  For me, all that stuff before the “but” is just salt in the wound.  The “I like you – as a friend” of screenwriting.




    I love it Barbara, the friendzone of writing.


    Shaula Evans

    As the minutes tick down to the Quest notifications, I wanted to bump this thread.

    What other advice can you share for the benefit of others about dealing with rejection?



    Already eating Pie and weeping. What next?


    Shaula Evans

    What next?

    1. Get back to work on whatever project is on your frontburner.

    2. Set an ambitious goal–that eclipses the Quest. I happen to know we’ve got a few people around here with scripts either on or about to hit the Black List hosting service, so they’re distracted from the Quest news by a higher stakes project.

    3. Assess one aspect of your writing you could improve in order to increase your chances of winning the Quest next year. Writing loglines / generating high concept ideas / writing in the right genre / assessing the commercial viability of your work. Make a plan for how to improve in that area–a real 12-month plan, with steps and incremental goals. Not sure how to improve? Start a thread and we’ll work that out together.

    4. Renew and amp up your commitment to stacking, and more specifically, to 1, 2, 7, 14.

    5. Invest in your fellow writers. We’ve had some loglines languishing in the Logline Workshop without attention for over a week (to my great embarrassment). And we have writers looking for notes in the Notes Exchange. Go help some other people–and improve your own skills in the process. (I find the best way for me, in almost any context, to get beyond my own disappointment and bad feelings is to help someone else. Foolproof remedy for me.)

    6. The emotional impact of rejection can feel a lot like post-project burnout. Visit that discussion for some helpful advice from some compassionate people.

    Does it help to know I’m very proud of you? I’m very proud of you. Naw, it doesn’t help near enough, but I hope it helps just a little.



    Time to roll out Michael Jordan.

    (for anyone logging into this thread at a later date, the Quest 2013 first cut emails have just been sent and ~800 writers haven’t received an email to say they were selected, so long story short, you’re in company.)

    You miss every shot you don’t take.

    I will not let the opportunity of failure stop me from doing something that I truly, truly enjoy doing.

    Heck, I’ll just let Michael take it away Michael’s Motivational Quotes.

    I have failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.



    A Hall-of-Fame hitter fails seven out of 10 times at bat.

    Just saying…



    Jenna Avery posted this great article on how failure is just a stop on the way to success. It hits home much more when  you look at the visuals:

    Here’s where that post came from:


    • This reply was modified 1 year, 10 months ago by  Shaula Evans. Reason: tidied links


    The crux of the first article:

    Dweck says that a fixed mindset is a belief that “your qualities are fixed in stone” and creates “an urgency to prove yourself over and over.” This kind of thinking leads us to believe that we only have a certain amount of talent, intelligence or character and there’s nothing we can do to improve it — save possibly making the “right” choices.

    This ties right into this black or white thinking of success and failure existing only as opposites.

    The growth mindset on the other hand, is “the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts.” This means that “a person’s true potential is unknown (and unknowable); that it’s impossible to foresee what can be accomplished with years of passion, toil, and training.”

    The crux of the second:

    “If we define failure as not achieving the results we are pursuing, we can choose to try something new, rather than defining it as a personal failing, or even defining it as a failure at all. We can think of it as information.”

    I feel better already.

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 10 months ago by  SabinaGiado.
    • This reply was modified 1 year, 10 months ago by  SabinaGiado.

    Shaula Evans

    Thanks for the links and excerpts, Sabina. I think you’ve just made a lot of people feel better.


    Mark Walker

    I think the important thing here is to forget about dealing with “REJECTION” – no one has been rejected per se – Scott had a massive task to sift through 800 odd loglines, but can’t take us all on the quest. But we can take ourselves – all of those loglines that were submitted are, in the mind of those who submitted them, a workable project to develop a workable film… GOYOQ lets the rest of us follow in the QUEST’s footprints and write the stories we were so passionate about yesterday – nothing has changed, the lead logline I sent to Scott is going to be tested on GOYOQ and I will have it finished by the end of the year, along with another one I am working on…..

    I am disappointed that I was not selected to get the extra special input from Scott (which will be invaluable) but I don’t take that as rejection or failure….I just didn’t hit all the buttons for Scott or Max….this time….give those same loglines to another reader and you will more than likely get a different 10 writers selected…

    So, let’s all pull up our britches, scoff that pie and kick rejection in the nuts while we show each other what we are made of……writing-wise of course, I wouldn’t condone violence…..mmmm, perhaps there is a logline in there somewhere……



    LOL @Mark:

    In response to Shaula’s exhortation, I came up with a few more ideas on how to ‘deal’ with the rejection:

    1. Celebrate what you’ve learned.

    I just looked at the loglines I sent in last year. They were dreadful. This year, they were SOOOOO much better they are not even in the same galaxy.

    2. Obviously though they didn’t work for some reason(s).

    My job is to find out what that is.

    Doesn’t mean I’m going to act on that reason. It might not be congruent with my creative path. But it’s still good to know. Whether it’s business or art, anything screenwriting is always good to know.

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