literary rejectionMy daughter and I have a good night routine and ritual that we practice every night before bed. First we begin with our bedtime routine of showering, putting on pajamas, brushing teeth, and snuggling up in bed with a good story. We read for about 20 minutes and then turn on night-lights while my daughter gets her last sip of water. Finally, we come to our ritual. I give my daughter a kiss on her cheek, a kiss on one hand, and then a kiss on the other. She curls up her fingers and holds onto the kisses for later in case she feels alone and scared. We do the same thing each night, in the same order, without fail. We do it this way to express love and help my daughter feel safe and secure.

 

In the Psychology Today article Why Do We Engage In Rituals, the author explains that we practice rituals, such as knocking on wood after tempting fate, in order to make the event seem less vivid, which seemingly lowers the chance of it occurring. We go through rituals when something bad has happened in order to restore feelings of control. Rituals that occur after a positive incident help heighten the experience.

While the research on rituals from a psychological perspective is limited, people believe them to be effective when there is repetition and lots of little steps. Cristine Legare, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, suggests that these rituals reflect how our minds work. In NPR’s The Science Of Ritual: Why We Seek Help And Healing In Repetition she says, “In a chaotic world, such repetition seems to offer us the illusion of control over what we want to happen.”

 

Scientific American states, “Recently, a series of investigations by psychologists have revealed intriguing new results demonstrating that rituals can have a causal impact on people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.” In other words, rituals help people feel in control of their lives and facilitate healing.

 

How To Overcome Rejection

 

What you do after you receive a publisher rejection letter impacts moving forward and getting back to work. Some authors honor the literary rejection by buying a celebratory latte or cupcake. Others take pictures of them and post them on social media. Some writers send out thank you notes to the editor. Whether you collect them in a file or shred them into pieces before lighting them on fire, having a rejection ritual may help you move on and continue writing.

 

The Atlantic article, In Grief, Try Personal Rituals, states that rituals, “which are deliberately-controlled gestures, trigger a very specific feeling in mourners—the feeling of being in control of their lives. After people did a ritual or wrote about doing one, they were more likely to report thinking that ‘things were in check’ and less likely to feel ‘helpless,’ ‘powerless,’ and ‘out of control.’

 

In Dealing With Literary Rejection: Tips From Sarah Fawn Montgomery the author suggests creating a rejection ritual and getting crafty. She uses her rejection slips to decoupage a coffee table. The table reminds her that getting rejected is part of the process of writing. It inspires her to keep going and is a nice distraction from self-pity. In How To Survive Rejection Tara Masih suggests holding onto your rejection slips and emails as proof that you are trying and taking part in the process.

 

Whatever rejection rituals you decide on make sure to break it down into little steps and include repetition. Doing so will not only help you heal, but also give you control of your life as a writer.