Cath Murphy's picture
Cath Murphy from UK is reading Find out on the Unpr!ntable podcast December 12, 2013 - 3:01am

Via Jon Gingerich on FB:

What interested me was the conclusion that creative people actually benefit from social rejection - it's a primer for the stubborness required to fight for out of the box thinking to be accepted.

Not that I'm endorsing rejection, but from my experience, this is actually true - the more people tell me my great new idea is stupid, the more I am inclined to fight for it, tooth and nail.


Flaminia Ferina's picture
Flaminia Ferina from Umbria is reading stuff December 12, 2013 - 6:09am

I know this will sound pretentious, but I literally need to strive for rejection. Sometimes I push it very hard. Without my annual quota of rejection, I would end up with too much success I wouldn't know what to do with.

Maybe it's just because I'm not good enough for the real rewarding kind of success, yet.

L.W. Flouisa's picture
L.W. Flouisa from Tennessee is reading More Murakami December 14, 2013 - 5:41pm

I still think there is a better way for me to say it. I just don't worry about rejection these days.

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like December 14, 2013 - 5:48pm

Why then do we respect "innovators from Van Gogh to Steve Jobs"?

It's like this: it's more impressive to survive for ten years in the arctic than ten years in the grocery store.

Flaminia Ferina's picture
Flaminia Ferina from Umbria is reading stuff December 17, 2013 - 11:30am

Probably so, JY.

Although I've worked in the grocery store and am still amazed I survived.

Jose F. Diaz's picture
Jose F. Diaz from Boston is reading Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel December 20, 2013 - 7:22pm

I think we are talking about different kinds of rejection. There is the "I'm not going to pay you for your work" rejection, and the "You have no business writing" rejection. While I feel there is definite positive incentive to being rejected on the prior premise, the latter is belittling and can lead to people believing it. While you say that being rejected makes you want to fight harder, there are many people who don't respond in that fashion. 

As for the article we may need to keep in context what an employer and teacher are trying to accomplish, not just the goals of the person attempting to be creative. If a boss has a specific way they want things done, they are paying you to do what they ask of you, why would you go out of your way to do it your way when they are paying you for something specific? To stick it to the man? There's a time and place for that kind of thinking. Teachers on the other hand do not reject creativity, but I think they are trying to give students a foundation of understanding before they just start doing things. Anyone could have painted a single dot on a canvas, but to know why you painted a single dot on a canvas and the history behind art that gets expressed by this simple moment is a function of education. 

So yes, they may be rejecting your desire to be creative, but what is their goal behind it. If they don't want creative because they just want the job done, then you can either comply or find employment elsewhere. Or try and explain why it benefits the employer. But just doing it and getting pissed because they don't "get it" is a little juvenile. The same with teachers, if they are trying to make sure you understand a certain topic, but you want to keep going outside the lines, how are they to know you actually grasp the material.

Everything has a time and place. There are different forms of rejection. Know why you are doing what you do. I think that's all I have.


Michael J. Riser's picture
Michael J. Riser from El Cerrito, CA (originally), now Fort Worth, TX is reading The San Veneficio Canon - Michael Cisco, The Croning - Laird Barron, By the Time We Leave Here, We'll Be Friends - J. David Osborne December 20, 2013 - 7:35pm

People can be rejected in writing fiction for a million reasons, but the most common two are: I.) the person can't write for shit (i.e. lack of developed talent), or II.) the editor just wasn't all that into their stuff even though it's really good (i.e. taste). Both of those are completely legitimate. For other forms of writing, it gets more complicated, usually due to specificity of task. But that's really another matter.

As for jobs, usually people are not paid to follow exact orders. In most work, you're paid to perform tasks. Sometimes you're even paid to think. The article addresses that directly, and I think it's absolutely correct. Nearly every place I've ever worked had things in place that made no sense, and anyone who challenged them, even with proven results, was usually ostracized in some fashion or even run out of the company. Teachers ... that's debateable. I'm in college, and I've certainly seen it in some professors. But my school is a good one, particularly professorially, so there hasn't been much of that.

I think the article makes a valid and interesting point, regardless.

Flaminia Ferina's picture
Flaminia Ferina from Umbria is reading stuff December 21, 2013 - 3:45am

There are employers who always look out for 'creative problem solvers' or stuff like that. Then you go there, you accept that non-existent salary cause, hey, the job lets you cultivate your creativity after all.

After a while you realize your tasks are just plain repetitive, plus extra management responsibilities are shifted onto you cause your boss is probably taking care of her boss's responsibilities and so on.

This is just one of the situations where creativity is rejected de facto and it's maybe the worst scenario because it baits you with the illusion that your inventiveness will be valued instead. Rejection from these kinds of placement is sometimes just a blackmail attempt. They belittle you, setting you up to fail so you stay cheap.

That said, I think that dealing with rejection is necessary when you want to find about your limits, your place in the world. If you only move within the comfort zone you're probably not working hard enough. We ought to know what rejects us and why, so we won't waste our time with it again unless we really want to break it.



L.W. Flouisa's picture
L.W. Flouisa from Tennessee is reading More Murakami December 22, 2013 - 7:18am

I'd like to clarify, I never complained about constructive critique. I mean stufff more like you boss saying, "Your a good for nothing." Not helpful in the least.