Gwydion Suilebhan

Three tips for playwrights during acceptance season

This time of year, many playwrights find themselves anxiously awaiting emails and phone calls letting them know whether they’ve received any number of opportunities for which they might have applied. I call it Acceptance Season; I used to call it Rejection Season, but then my worldview shifted. It can be a thoroughly crazy-making experience. As I write this blog post, I have been waiting for an email about one project in particular for exactly ten days, and I’m expecting a phone call (or not, depending on whether I’ve been selected for something else) early next week. I haven’t slept well, I haven’t been able to focus as easily as I normally can, and check my inbox and voicemail messages more than might be considered healthy. I know I’m not alone.

In pushing through my anxiety, I’ve been thinking about three things that help me more than, say, a pitiful pint of ice cream, and I thought I might share them in the hope that they help others, too.

First, remember that the odds are super-long. Success as a playwright can be damned hard to come by for anyone. The road we walk has a great many rocks to step over… so if you don’t get that commission or production or residency, think of the news as just another stone to kick out of your way while you’re taking a step forward. It’s an insignificant trifle, forgotten almost immediately. Focus on where you’re headed, not where you’ve been.

Second, count your blessings. Our brains are almost painfully wired to focus on the things we don’t have, rather than on the abundance we’re surrounded by. Think of your family and friends. Your home, your health, your art: whatever reminds you of riches. Think of whatever writing you submitted: that’s yours, too, and nobody can take it away from you. Think of your next projects, too: the ideas that are already simmering in you brain. You might even look into the future: imagine yourself sitting in an audience somewhere, listening to everyone around you applauding for work you created. Make an abundant world in your mind and go there for a while.

Third—and this is a very important reminder—bask in others’ successes. (So much better than resenting them.) You know how whenever you watch a movie with a strong hero trying to achieve something big, and then they do, you feel like you’ve done it yourself? Your chest puffs out, you feel mighty, and you want to high-five somebody? Think of your friends and colleagues as heroes in exactly the same way. (Don’t waste time on envy; it’ll bring you down. It brings us all down.) Watch their lives like you’re watching a hero story. Let their achievements make you feel great: like you can conquer the world. You will feel terrific.

Thank you all for reading this. Thank you for being a part of my community, which gets bigger than I ever imagined every year. Thank you for inspiring me and for writing alongside me and for cheering me on. Thank you for your friendship and comradeship. Thank you and thank you again.


Gwydion Suilebhan is a DC- based writer, consultant, speaker, and arts advocate.

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Gwydion Suilebhan
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