Why Rejection Is Difficult for Creative Professionals


Why is rejection so difficult for creatives? Or is it for everyone?

That was one of my first questions for Poet and Creative Coach, Mark McGuiness, in Episode 3 of the HOWLive Speaker Podcast Series.

He believes it’s completely normal to have trouble with this. “We really care about our work, so of course we take it personally. We put our heart and soul into it. Any criticism or judgment feels like an attack on us.”

Rejection is to the creative professional what sprains are to the athlete: an occupational hazard but normal!

“Every creative I’ve ever worked with has to deal with this, including myself. But the more you pretend it doesn’t hurt, the more power it has over you. It’s an occupational hazard. It’s part of the price I pay for the eventual acceptance or ‘yes.'”

resiliencecoverResilience by Mark McGuiness

If you want to succeed as a creative professional, you MUST learn to deal with all different types of rejection and criticism:

  • Rejection of your work by clients, prospects and gatekeepers
  • Feedback from your boss/colleagues/customers—some of it brutal!
  • ‘Constructive criticism’ from mentors, critics, and peers
  • Carping from competitors
  • Reviews and feedback from the public

how-design-liveIt’s easy to say ‘don’t take it personally’—but it’s not so easy to do when you put your heart and soul into your work. To overcome rejection and criticism, it’s essential that you build resilience—the ability to bounce back from adversity, just as strong, or even stronger, than before.

One of Mark’s suggestions for not making yourself miserable is to distinguish between doing the work and what happens to it afterward – when you hand it over to a client or even to a buyer. “If you want to do high quality commercial work, you have to put your heart and soul into it. But then you have to be able to let it go and say, ‘I’ve created it and it needs to make it’s own way in the world.’

Listen to the rest of our interview to find out:

  • How and where self confidence fits in
  • 2 first steps you can take toward handling rejection
  • How to determine whether criticism is valid

In May, in Mark’s HOW Design Live session on this topic, he will explain why rejection and criticism hurt so badly, and what you can do about them. With inspiring examples and practical advice, he will help you build the resilience you need to keep going in spite of setbacks, and achieve success on your own terms.

T56092014 Creative Freelancers Business Collection

Enjoy these recordings from the 2014 Creative Freelance Business Conference. In this collection you’ll learn how to create a business action plan, find out what buyers are really looking for, pick up winning sales strategies, price and negotiate with confidence, and get new business from clients who recognize your value-all so that you can concentrate on the creative work you love. This collection of audio and video recordings includes a total of 22 recordings (14 video & 8 audio). Learn more.