When you aspire to become a writer, you encounter the word “no” fairly quickly. No is everywhere: No, we don’t want to publish your book. No, we’re not interested in reading your article. No, we don’t like that book you worked the last two years of your life on.
The thing is, if a writer doesn’t learn quickly how to deal with the word no, they won’t survive the business. Yes, you hear about the new writer whose first book ever written gets accepted by a major publisher and then rockets onto the bestseller list, but those stories are very rare when you consider all of the writers out there who struggle to get noticed. The majority of writers hear the word no over and over again, sometimes for many years. In my case, I heard the word no from countless agents for six years before I finally heard a yes. I hear stories like that from other writers I talk with, who tried for five, ten, even fifteen years before they reached their dream of publication.
And does it get easier once you hear that yes? No! Even after getting published, writers still hear the word no. The publisher of your first book may decide not to publish another book. A bookstore may decide not to carry your books. Some readers will still hate anything you write. That much constant negativity can bring you down and make you believe that you’ll never reach your dreams. But along this journey, I’ve learned that no does not mean never; it just means not right now.
This is true even outside of the writing world. Maybe your dream isn’t writing. Maybe it’s inventing a new product that changes people’s lives. Or recording a hit song. Or becoming a CEO. Whatever your dream is, you’ll probably still hear the word no along the way. Probably even more than once. It’s easy to wallow in that no, to let yourself believe that you’re a failure and you’ll never get anywhere so why waste your time trying?
One thing that kept me pushing on as I tried to get that first book published was the thought, “If I quit right now and never tried again, how will I ever know if the next time was going to be my big break?” If you let yourself give up for good, you’ll never know how far you could have gone.
Maybe this moment isn’t the right one. Maybe that book or song you’re working on isn’t the one that will get you noticed. But that doesn’t mean that the next one won’t be it. The next time you put yourself out there may be your moment. Push past the no and the negative feelings that come with it to keep trying for your dream.