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By Johannes Helmold

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Hi everyone!

Today I am going to talk about a tricky but serious enemy of all (or at least many) creative people, including writers. But first, before I name him or her, I’ll ask you some questions. If you answer “yes” to one of them, this blog post is for you.

Have you ever written something, but then, instead of showing it to other people or publishing it, hid it in your desk drawer? Have you quit working on your writing because you were suddenly struck by the thought that the idea you were developing wasn’t bright enough? Have you at least once claimed yourself to be talentless, especially compared to successful and famous authors?

If yes, then you are familiar with your enemy: its name is pre-rejection.

Pre-rejection is a way of thinking that implies your disparagement towards the results of your work, or towards the work itself. It may originate from a lack of confidence in your creative capabilities, low self-esteem, a bad experience (or on the contrary, success in the past, followed by a row of creative misfortunes), unflattering comparisons, and so on.

I called pre-rejection tricky because it works subtly; it disguises itself as “rational,” but it is in fact negative thoughts about your writing:

  • “This is my first novel—it cannot be good”
  • “I can hardly create something unique, because this topic was used so many times by authors much more professional than me”
  • “It’s just science fiction, a non-serious genre—I doubt that it’s worth attention”
  • “People nowadays don’t read anything like this, so I shouldn’t even try sending it to a publishing house

These, as well as many other similar thoughts, may seem true (and sometimes they are), but this is pre-rejection.

You should not be the one who rejects your work. Even if you write something truly awful and the public won’t accept it, let them reject you. I think most often pre-rejection is based on our fear to be rejected by others; so, in order to avoid disappointment, we sometimes inhibit our own projects.

Be attentive to the thoughts you have about your writing. If you notice any of such “rational but discouraging” thoughts, remind yourself that your job is writing; do not try to write in a way that your readers would be fond of; do not try to guess what would be popular, and what kind of novel would be published for certain. The tastes of audiences and editors are beyond your responsibility. You should worry only about the quality of what you write; do your best when writing, and don’t try to be “objective” about the results.

Being aware of being prone to pre-rejection is a good solution. So, be attentive to what you think, avoid being “rational and objective” about your own writing, and let acceptance or denial of your work be the responsibility of the readers and publishers. Good luck!

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