Being a writer, I experience a lot of rejection. I mean a lot! For every published story or article, I can count almost triple the amount of rejections. However, I have found that this lifestyle has given me a pretty solid backbone, and a rejection doesn't mean you're done creating or submitting work. You simply move on.
Please don't rest on your laurels. I celebrate my wins and then I move on to the next creative endeavor. There's always that one person in the crowd who talks about what they did back in 1995 or 2001 or 1987, and you notice they haven't done much since. If you focus on what you did two, five, ten, or umpteen billion years ago as if it were today, you're going to stagnate. Stagnation is the biggest killer of creativity. You have to move on. Likewise, stop focusing on your rejections from years ago. Rejection means loss and failure, but it's good failure. As artists, we're not infallible. We create some pretty shitty work and there are times we create totally amazing work. You have to be humble enough to learn from your failures and from what others are saying to you about your work. Take away what you need to and move on!
Encourage and support other artists. This is huge. Seriously. I don't mean financially. I mean work with other artists, collaborate with them when you can, encourage them to better themselves, tell them what you love about their work, tell them what you think needs improvement, and by golly, be nice! Nothing is worse than an arrogant artist who knows everything and has the personality of an asshole. Learn from your fellow artists. They have experiences you haven't. Be humble enough to learn, apply it to your life, and move on to a better you.
Make deadlines for your work. Telling yourself that you'll publish or record or paint the next project you are working on "sometime this year" doesn't get things done. You have to set strict goals and stick to them. Otherwise you're gonna be a maybe, sometime person who "might" work as an artist. Focus on at least three goals every six months and make stringent deadlines to work on your shit. I realize a lot of us artists are disorganized, head-in-the-clouds people, but damn it...you want to work as an artist, right? Then do it and move on.
Read, study, apply. Read, study, apply. Repeat after me...read, study, apply. If you want to get better at what you do, you have to be a life-long learner. Take classes. Study under another artist to learn new techniques. Read books. Explore nature. Build both your personal and professional relationships. Make a commitment to yourself to expand who you are as an artist so you become everything you can be. Strong, successful artists are people who continually evolve. Don't be that artist that doesn't try new things. Live, learn, and move on to a more open-minded and artistic you.
Finally, realize that opinions are just that...opinions. You know what they say about opinions: like assholes, everyone has one. Some opinions are constructive and help you get better. Some drag you down into the cold depths of artistic hell. Focus on the opinions that help you become better at your craft. Those are the most important ones. Also make a commitment to be a constructive opinion giver rather than a critical, immature opinion giver. When you're able to give constructive opinion rather than immature opinion, you'll begin to soar both personally and professionally. Accept the constructive opinions, analyze your work, improve it, and move on.
As artists, we explore so many wonderful things; however, being an artist requires certain skills. Many of which have nothing to do with our craft and more so have to do with emotional intelligence. All and all, we have to move on to other opportunities, to better artistry, and to our own evolution.
Take pride in your journey and don't back down. It's worth every step!
Jenna Cornell, 1/19/17