Sunday, March 29, 2015

Dealing with “No”

“In spite of everything I shall rise again: I will take up my pencil, which I have forsaken in my great discouragement, and I will go on with my drawing.” - Vincent Van Gogh

One of the main issues we have to deal with as creative people is how we will react when we hear the word “no”. And if you are doing this right, you will hear “no” a lot.

Sometimes “no” will come in responses like “It’s not right for us” or “It’s not what we’re looking for”. Other times people will politely smile and pat you on the head, saying things like “Good job” or “Look at you”. Yet they walk off without saying they are actually buying what you are selling.

Maybe your local church has said “no” to your talent. Perhaps the local art gallery has said “no” to your work. You’ve gotten rejection letter after rejection letter, and you wonder if all these mean it’s time to hang it up.

It probably depends on the type of person you are, but I have always found that getting told “no” just makes me find a way to create even more. In fact, I think being told “no” by Nashville in my early years as a songwriter actually helped me build the creative blog you’re reading right now!

“Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success.” - Dale Carnegie

When someone tells you that you can’t do something you feel God made you for, it can only drive you to the next level. You can use that discouragement and let it gently move you into a different place where you can succeed.

I came to Nashville many times to show my songs to folks, or meet with people who I thought would lead me towards the music career I imagined was for me. But each time, I drove back home knowing that I either had work to do, or that there was something else for me to do. Eventually, I realized there needed to be another Christian music business; one that used my unique set of talents; one that built people up on any level; one that helped the 99% of talented people build a creative life where they could use their talents.

Sometimes we hear no because we are trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. We assume when we see other people get “music deals” on TV, or get their books published, or have their art celebrated, that we are being told “no” and they are being told “yes”. The real truth is that they may just fit in better with the tiny, temporary hole that is “acceptance” in the entertainment industry.

There are many other cases where people had to fail before they stumbled on to what would be their creative destiny. Walt Disney went from job to job early on, and even lost his first cartoon character before creating Mickey Mouse and moving forward. Thomas Edison failed over 1,000 times before stumbling onto the solution for the light bulb. Abraham Lincoln failed in business and politics before becoming president.

Failure and discouragement are just part of the game for those of us who hope to change the world with our creative gifts. Hearing “no” is just part of the daily grind for the working songwriter, author, artist, or musician.

How we respond and proceed, confident God has set us on this creative path, is how we will succeed.

“All your life you are told the things you cannot do. All your life they will say you're not good enough or strong enough or talented enough; they will say you're the wrong height or the wrong weight or the wrong type to play this or be this or achieve this. THEY WILL TELL YOU NO, a thousand times no, until all the no's become meaningless. All your life they will tell you no, quite firmly and very quickly. AND YOU WILL TELL THEM YES.”

Have a great week!


Eric Copeland is a music producer, author, and many other things for Creative Soul, a Christian music and media company in Nashville, TN. For more information on this creative company, check out

1 comment:

  1. Preach it brother! I have found that if you find the "root" of their "No"...You can adapt and overcome. I send out 100's of emails every week...If I let a single "no" stop me...I would've missed out on the "Great Adventure" that God has me on! Keep typing brother! Makes me smile!


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Eric Copeland is an author, producer, keyboardist, songwriter, and president of Creative Soul Companies. What is Creative Soul? Our main goals are to inform, encourage, and assist Christian creative folks in ministry, no matter where they are in their journey. Thanks for reading! Find out more about us at