Dealing With the Word “No”

Getting a “no” can be rough.

Each time you get a “no” (be it for a job interview, an application to your favorite school, an audition for a part in a movie or play) it can really feel like that was it – the end. You’ll never have another chance.

You will. I’m going to share two really simple (though challenging) things that kept me going through all the “no’s,” until I finally had my “yes.”

Pull through

Churchill said it best: when you’re going through hell, keep going.

Unless someone was going to chop your head off for failing that audition/not passing that exam/not snagging that literary agent, guess what? It’s not the end. There will always be another chance. Keep going. Get ready to try again. Pull through the pain of that “no,” and find the light on the other side.

The thing is, in order to keep going, you need to make a VERY important attitude adjustment.

Look Beyond

This is essential: do not set your heart on a one-time thing that might or might not come to pass.

Let’s say your goal is to be a writer. Define that. When you say, “a writer,” do you mean “writing things that move other people the way my favorite books have moved me?” Or do you mean, “being rich and famous and everybody knows my name?”

The latter goal might or might not happen. It’s not in your control. Something like fame is entirely dependent on the market, on other people’s money and time and interests, on competition, and things that you absolutely cannot affect no matter how hard you try.

But if your goal is to write, to create, to weave stories that people love to read… you can do that. That’s a goal you can always strive to reach.

If an agent didn’t want you, you can still be an amazing writer.

If you didn’t win a contest, you can still be an amazing writer.

If you don’t sell enough copies to pay off your house, guess what? You can still be an amazing writer… and the people who do read you will know it, and love you for it.

Look beyond the small goal you didn’t reach.  Make sure you have a bigger one – one that isn’t dependent on one single event.

Pull through. Look beyond. In fact, you know what? Here are two videos that say it better than I ever could.

Part One: It’s Going to Suck – AT FIRST

Part Two: Even When You Stop Sucking, It’ll Take a While – AND THAT’S OKAY


A three-times bestselling author, Ruthanne Reid has led a convention panel on world-building, taught courses on plot and character development, and been the keynote speaker for the Write Practice Retreat. Author of two series with five books and fifty-plus short stories, Ruthanne has lived in her head since childhood, when she wrote her first story about a pony princess and a genocidal snake-kingdom and used up her mom’s red typewriter ribbon in the process. When she isn’t reading, writing, or reading about writing, Ruthanne enjoys old cartoons with her husband and two cats, and dreams of living on an island beach far, far away. P.S. Red is still her favorite color.