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October 27, 2023

Dealing with Rejection as a Writer

Dealing with rejection is an inevitable part of the writing process, especially for screenwriters. Consider this statistic - the Screenwriters Guild registers about 50,000 scripts each year and only 150 make it into production.

At first glance, that might seem incredibly daunting. However, the reality is that the vast majority of those rejected scripts are from amateur writers who haven't put in the hard work to polish and perfect their craft. Simple mistakes like spelling and grammar errors, improper formatting, and illogical plots are all too common in scripts from unseasoned writers.

So while the odds may seem stacked against you, rejection doesn't have to spell failure. If you commit to continually improving your writing, studying the conventions of professional screenwriting, and seeking feedback to identify weaknesses in your work, you're already ahead of the pack.

Rejection just means you haven't reached the pinnacle of your abilities yet. With persistence and resilience, rejection can actually motivate you to get better so you can eventually succeed. The pros treat rejection as a normal pitstop on the road to success, not the end of the journey.

So keep your chin up, keep writing, and let rejection fuel your creativity and determination. Your acceptance from a major studio or production company will come if you stick with it.

Here are our top tips to keep you motivated when dealing with rejection.

Understanding the causes of rejection - see it as a data point

As a screenwriter, rejection is usually not a reflection on your skills or the quality of your script. More often, scripts get rejected due to factors beyond your control. Here are some common reasons scripts get passed over.

When it comes to screenwriting, it's important you don't give up and see each experience as a learning curve

Subjective tastes of producers and studios

They may not connect personally with your story or characters. Remember different people like different things.

Competition for limited production slots

Only so many movies get made each year, and studios have to be picky. It's not personal. It's the law of mathematics.

Not the right fit for that studio/producer

Your brilliant drama may not work for a company focused on low-budget horror films. You can always try another production company or another producer at that company to see what happens.

An oversaturated genre or theme

Vampire movies may be hard to sell right now because the market is flooded. Timing is key. And the more industry experience and knowledge you are building up, the more you will get to understand this.

Lack of experience/credits

As a new writer, you may get passed over for big-name screenwriters with long track records. Keep building your portfolio.

The next time you get a rejection letter, remember it's not necessarily a commentary on your skills. Even excellent scripts get rejected all the time due to outside factors. The key to understanding rejection is that it is data. Being rejected 100 or even 1,000 times tells you something about your script. It means something is not working and that should excite you.

Because if it's not working, you have the ability to change it.

So how do you figure out the reason you were rejected? You can find. this out via feedback from industry professionals. Unfortunately in today's overstuffed market you are probably going to have to pay for this if you don't have any contacts in the industry. But if multiple people whose opinions you trust tell you the same thing about your scripr, this is probaby the reason it was rejected

Let it motivate you to write more specs and queries to improve your odds of success.

Healthy mindset

Experiencing rejection is a normal part of a screenwriting career. How you handle it mentally makes all the difference. Here are some tips for maintaining a healthy mindset when faced with rejection:

  • Avoid negative self-talk about your abilities. One passer is not a reflection on your potential
  • Remember rejection is temporary. With perseverance, you can get a yes down the road
  • Focus on what you can control like improving craft, networking, seeking feedback.
  • Set small achievable goals like finishing a draft or query letter. Celebrate progress
  • Seek support from a writing group or mentor. Share war stories and advice
  • Vent your disappointment briefly, then refocus on the next steps. Don't dwell in regret
  • Use rejection to fuel motivation to keep honing your skills and submissions
  • Trust your passion for screenwriting. If you love it, keep pursuing it

It's so easy to suffer in silence when you're dealing with rejection. But remember you don't have to. Whilst screenwriting is an ultracompeitive industry it doesn't mean you have to compete against fellow screenwriters. Find your friends and pool the knolwedge and contacts you have to bring all of you up together. Use internet forums and Facebook groups to keep your spirits high rather than pouring out negative emotions.

Turn rejection into motivation

Dealing with rejection as a writer can actually provide fuel to improve your screenwriting and get better results next time. Instead of letting the latest passed-on script demoralize you, use it as an opportunity to turn rejection into motivation.

Study the rejection note carefully for any feedback you can use to strengthen your writing. Do comprehensive research on the producer who rejected you and what kinds of projects they look for to optimize future submissions. Join a screenwriting group or find a mentor where you can solicit constructive critiques to level up your skills.

Set new writing goals like completing an outline or first draft of a new script within a set timeframe. Staying focused on specific achievements keeps you in forward motion. And most importantly, persist in sending out queries and submissions. The more you put yourself out there, the closer you get to that big break. The writers who make it are the ones who refuse to ever stop trying. So keep chasing the dream, keep improving, and know that rejection simply means you aren't quite where you need to be yet. If screenwriting is your passion, you owe it to yourself to push past the no's and forge ahead. Your tenacity and talent will pay off down the road.

Remember when it comes to dealing with rejection Arc Studio is here to support you every step of the way.


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Dealing with Rejection as a Writer
Harry Verity

Harry is a professional writer. His first novel The Talk Show was published in the U.S and the U.K by Bloodhound Books in 2021 and he is currently working on adapting it for screen using Arc Studio. He's also written for Media Magazine - a UK magazine for students of A-level Film, Media and Television Studies. His journalism has appeared in The Guardian, Readers' Digest and Newsweek, amongst many other publications. He has just finished his second novel for young adults, set in a boarding school. He holds a BA in English from Loughborough University.

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