To get things right requires doing things over and over and over again. I recently came across this article about writing: why you should aim for 100 rejections a year. Writing is much like any art, or other discipline for that matter. You constantly have to put yourself out there. You have to make things over and over. I particularly like the bit in the article about the ceramics class. The group was divided into two parts: quantity and quality. The quantity group had to produce many, and the quality group had to focus on perfection. It turns out that the quantity group also had the highest quality. The act of doing something over and over again is a learning process. (Of course, if you do something over and over in exactly the same way and expect a different result, I think that was defined as insanity). What happened was that the students who did things many times learned from each iteration, with the result that they were able to fine tune their craft much better than the students who focused all their energy on the single masterwork.
I think that this is the hardest thing to teach students. Failure is emotionally difficult, yes, no argument. But it is part of a process. The idea is to have many small failures and to learn from them. The more mistakes you make, the more you learn from them. Key here is recognizing your mistakes, where those mistakes are, and how to correct them.
Iterations are part of a process of testing. You have an idea, you take pencil to paper (or pixels or vectors to screen) and work out the idea to see if it has merit. Then you do that for the next idea, and the next, and the next, and the next (you get the idea). Then you can look at those ideas in relation to each other, and determine which ones have the most merit to move on to the next stage of development.
The article that provoked this train of thought was about submitting for publication, residencies, agents, and all the other aspects of the writer’s life. But you can say the same for competitions, trying to get clients, looking for a job that you want. Rejection is likely to be the norm. And it isn’t entirely about you. Whoever is looking at your submission has their own point of view, and is looking for specific things. So if you want something, you have to be in the game.