Are you Playing in the Land of No?

Are you Playing in the Land of No?

As she wiped away the tears, the artist told me her story. She’d applied for a project that was a perfect match for her work. She had all the right qualifications. She was certain that she’d get it. She even started to make plans for moving forward. But then she wasn’t chosen! It left her stunned, questioning herself and her talent.

It took all of two seconds for “no” to turn into shame, to wrong, to not good enough. We’ve all been there, haven’t we?

But here’s another story. One day, I knocked on a neighbor’s door just as he was opening a bottle of expensive champagne. “Come in and join me!” he cried out, obviously excited. “I’m celebrating! I’ve just received another rejection letter for my novel!” This man understands the lesson that my own coach, Kate Schutt recently shared with me; “Yes” lives in the “Land of No.”

In other words, you’ve got to get past your ego and fears of failure if you want to get to where you want to go. If you want someone to say “Yes,” you cannot be afraid of “No.”
I know that it hurts when doors close, when you’re rejected. But it’s your choice as to how to respond. And how you respond determines how the universe plays its next card.

So choose gratitude and curiosity and faith. And keep doing the work. Do it better, do it bigger. Do it with champagne!

And above all, don’t be afraid to play in the Land of No. Because this is where Yes will find you.

Crista Cloutier is an artist who writes. She’s the founder of The Working Artist, online business program for visual artists of all media. Visit to join her mailing list and you’ll also receive a free gift.


  1. Kim

    14 November

    Rejection is a hard thing but it comes with being an artist, “never, ever count your chickens before they hatch”

  2. Catherine

    5 May

    Thank you for writing this! The article was exactly what a brand new artist needs to hear. I just submitted my art work to my first open call juried art show and will not find out if my paintings are accepted until next week. It had been eight years since I picked up a paint brush. I started painting again this past winter. My stomach was turning once I left the guild after seeing other submissions. I was already expecting and fearing the rejection. After reading this, you have calmed my nerves and changed my mindset. As exciting as it would to be accepted, I will still find my yes in the rejection and continue to grow as an artist.

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