Transcending No with the Big R Game

Many people have a tremendous amount of baggage when it comes to one of the smallest words in the English language — no. It’s mostly a learned behavior. As I’ve watched my daughter growing up, the first few years she didn’t seem to have any problems with rejection. For example, while learning to walk, gravity rejected her countless times. She’d pull herself up on her pudgy, wobbly legs, stand there for a few seconds, then try letting go. As soon as she did, gravity rejected her attempts to stand and plop, down she’d go. She’d sit there for a few moments, then giggle and start all over.

Not so with many writers (and people in general). In fact, I’ve talked to quite a few writers who have so much fear of being rejected that they won’t even submit their material. That’s one way to avoid rejection. It’s just not a productive way to build a writing career. Let’s look at how to deal with rejection in a more positive manner.

How about turning it in your favor? Here’s how I went about doing just that. When I decided to try my hand at writing and getting published, I created a writing game. I call it the Big R Game. The rules are simple; in fact, there’s only one, and it’s summarized in the object of the game:

Collect as many rejections as you can as fast as you can while writing as well as you can.

I set my target for 100. Now, I know this might sound a little crazy. Why would I set collecting rejections as one of my writing goals? Isn’t that what a writer wants to avoid? Well, maybe in a perfect world, but the writing and publishing world isn’t quite perfect. My rationale for starting such a game was simple. I knew that if I won at this game I’d be doing at least two things right: I’d be writing a lot and I’d be submitting what I wrote. These are the two most important activities a writer needs to do religiously and consistently if he wants to succeed at the larger game of being a published and profitable writer.

Playing the Big R Game also took the edge off of receiving those rejection letters. Each time I’d get one in the mail, I knew I was winning the game, not only the Big R game but also the much larger game of becoming successful as a writer. I viewed each rejection as one step closer to learning my craft. If you have a problem with rejection, try a few rounds of Big R. You may find it will lift your spirit and dissolve a lot of the resistance you’ve added to writing.

The other big benefit of the game is that if you set out to collect one hundred rejections, you’re also going to get a fair amount of acceptances, which, for the purposes of the game would be failures, but what a great way to fail!

(This article is an excerpt of From Spark to Flame: Fanning Your Passion & Ideas into Money-making Magazine Articles that Make a Difference. It’s also the name of an 8-week class being held at Blue Ridge Community College in May of 2011. )