Dealing with Disappointment: Rx for Down Days

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Down days.

We all have them.

Perhaps you didn’t final in a contest or you received a pass from an agent or editor. Maybe even both in one fell swoop.

Unlike down times, which can last for weeks or months, down days only set us back a short time. We take an emotional hit, but, being the resilient, tougher-than-we-look writers we are, we bounce back fairly quickly.

However, we can still feel pretty crummy when the blow comes.

When my agent sent the story that became my debut novel out on submission, the first three passes came a week apart. Then two came at once. Ouch!

Knowing rejections were inevitable, I’d done my best to brace myself for them. Even so, I didn’t fare as well each time as I’d hoped. When I received news of the third pass in a row, I developed a mild case of Dashed Dreams Disorder.

Possible Symptoms of Dashed Dreams Disorder

(Note: An affected person may experience some or all of the symptoms. Some symptoms may occur simultaneously. Fluctuation between the symptoms is common.)

mild to moderate sensitivity
watery eyes
tightness in the chest
muscle tension
rapid breathing
inability to concentrate
preoccupation with stimulus

A Rx for Dashed Dreams Disorder

(Note: Affected persons are advised to skip steps that aren’t helpful. Repeating steps which are helpful is permissible and even encouraged.)

1. Accept the disorder as a normal reaction to the stimulus.
2. Avoid continued exposure to the stimulus.
3. Refrain from public contact until the worst of the symptoms have passed.
4. Seek the assistance of supportive family members or close friends.
5. Allow for natural drainage of tear ducts.
6. Get plenty of rest.
7. Eat well-balanced meals, remembering that chocolate has known curative powers.
8. Indulge in hot baths with aromatic salts or other soaking aids.
9. Don’t make any major decisions until the symptoms have passed.

* * *

While there is an element of humor to the above lists, the information is sound. Accepting the facts that we will experience disappointment (which can manifest itself in various ways) and that our varied reactions to it are normal, is healthy. Taking care of ourselves and not making rash decisions is important. In time, the symptoms will pass and we’ll be ready to return to our stories with clear heads and restored determination.

* * *

What would you add to the lists above?

What reactions to disappointing news have you experienced?

How have you administered self-care during a case of Dashed Dreams Disorder?


About Keli Gwyn

I'm an award-winning author of inspirational historical romance smitten with the Victorian Era. I'm currently writing for Harlequin's Love Inspired Historical line of wholesome, faith-filled romances. My debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, was released July 1, 2012. I'm represented by Rachelle Gardner of Book & Such Literary. I live in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierras. My favorite places to visit are my fictional worlds, other Gold Country towns and historical museums. When I'm not writing I enjoy taking walks, working out at Curves™ and reading.
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9 Responses to Dealing with Disappointment: Rx for Down Days

  1. Sherrinda says:

    Oh, I love this! The Triple D! lol And yes, I’ve come down with a case or two. It’s funny, but yesterday I got back scores from my contemporary/speculative Genesis entry and they were not good at all. While in some ways it was disappointing, deep down I knew they were the right scores. And what’s funny is, I haven’t really fallen in love writing the story. I’m still only half-done with it and am struggling to WANT to finish it. I’m thinking that may be because my first love is historical. I probably need to stick with what I love best! So while disappointing, sometimes those down days can point you in the right direction.

    Chocolate is always a first choice for me in dealing with the Triple D! (That, and gummy bears!) 😉

    • Martina Bedregal Calderón says:

      I can second that, Sherrinda….hehe. Anyone wants some choccies or gummy bears?

  2. Char says:

    Thanks. Keli! I needed that. I seem to struggle all the time, with revisions, continuing on with several manuscripts, one of which I’ve lost interest in. Yet I know it could be a good story if only I’d buckle down and fight with it a little.

    Chocolate soothes the Beast, that’s for sure! Along with several Diet Dr. Peppers and a large pizza loaded with everything! And of course, your marvelous and insightful blogs!


  3. Wendy says:

    My biggest instinct is to get alone with God when I’m sad or disappointed, but I have to watch that because even when I do that I can hibernate and isolate myself too much.

    Support is great at this time. I’ve learned a lot about this.
    ~ Wendy

  4. Jessica says:

    Oh man, Keli, this is awesome! LOL I love every bit of it and have nothing to add. My biggest disappointment was probably when my full was requested and I received a rejection two weeks after I sent it. I had a sniffle or two for that.

  5. territiffany says:

    All of the above! Mostly I get depressed and sad awhile but over the years, I have learned to bounce back quicker cause there is always another chance sometime.

  6. Sounds like if I stay with this career, I’ll need a refill on this prescription many times over. 🙂 Like Randy Ingermanson says, if we don’t have the guts to stick it out, we could always take up a safer profession…like a snake handler or sky diving instructor. Too bad I don’t like snakes. 🙂

    In all seriousness, I especially appreciate your advice to not make rash decisions. I tend to be a dramatist and think that every response (or lack of) means I should pitch everything and hide in a hole forever. Taking some time away and coming back with a clear head is sometimes needed.

  7. Great advice Keli! And very timely for lots of writers during “contest season”. 😉 Thanks for sharing this series of posts you’ve been writing – – they’ve been very helpful and reassure me that I’m not alone! 🙂

  8. Martina Bedregal Calderón says:

    You forgot an increased hunger for chocolate in your list of symptoms, Keli …haha. 😉

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