Frustration is part of the creative process. Gilbert writes:
"... handling your frustration is a fundamental aspect of the work - perhaps the single most fundamental aspect of the work. Frustration is not an interruption of your process; frustration is the process The fun part (the part where it doesn't feel like work at all) is when you're actually creating something wonderful, and everything is going great, and everyone loves it, and you're flying high. But such instances are rare. You don't just get to leap from bright moment to bright moment. How you manage yourself between those bright moments, when things aren't going so great, is a measure of how devoted you are to your vocation, and how equipped you are for the weird demands of creative living. Holding yourself together through all the phases of creation is where the real work lies."
So, how do you handle your frustration? Well, last night I didn't do a great job of it. I burst into tears, went into the ladies room, skipped my writer's meeting and descended into a spiral of self-loathing. Have you ever done that? Maybe it's just me. But my tumult went something like this:
"I couldn't write myself out of a hole. I'm so out of touch with the world and what they need and want. I'll never make any money out of this. I want a normal life. No one will marry me because I'm a terrible writer. Plus, I've now got bags under my eyes because I've been crying and am even uglier and more untalented than ever before. Woe is me."
Well, I recommend you don't go there in the first place. But if you do, try this.
1. Text a friend. Someone you trust and admire. Someone who has got your back. Tell her what you're feeling. She might come back to you with her own experiences of rejection and remind you that publishers rejected J.K Rowling's first manuscript multiple times before that book changed the world.
2. Then, read J.K. Rowling's list of rejection letters published on Twitter.
3. Text another friend. That one might say, "Bet it wasn't personal." And she's right, it never is. Nothing ever is. "That's shite - but knockbacks are necessary of the journey to something better."
4. Go to the shop to buy something inexpensive to help you get over it. A muffin. A postcard. A tube of lipstick. I bought a new pair of rubber gloves. When I got home, I cleaned the sink. Unglamorous, sure. But it made me feel back in the swing of things. "At least I can do that," I said.
5. Switch creative outlets. Does the rejection for your writing make you feel like never writing agin? Don't worry. The feeling's temporary. It will come back. In the meantime: draw, photograph, dance. Wave your arms around. Do anything that takes your mind off the pressure. Einstein calls this "combinatory play." Sometimes you enhance one act by dabbling in another fun thing.
5. Go find an animal. If you have one, take it for a walk. Now, I don't have an animal, but last night before I bought those rubber gloves, I bumped into an Irish Setter at the Albert Heijn. When I reached out my hand, the dog responded to me like I was the best human ever. And you are a terrific human!
6. Do a ritualistic dance to invoke new muses of creativity. Maybe there's a goddess of divine submissions who can poke around and see if there's some other magazine or gallery or publishing house that might dig what you got.
7. Don't give up. We need you here. We need all your imperfect pieces of art, all your half-edited manuscripts and your sketches buried or burnt. They've made the world a better place. Even the unseen stuff. Even the failures. They are, in whatever small or wondrous way an expression of your creative spirit. That's a gift. Don't reject your spirit like that editor just did to your oh-so precious piece of writing.
8. Now, go on and give'r.