When I first started taking my writing seriously (and had yet to be rejected), I thought of rejection as something slightly romantic, something that would make me a real writer. I imagined myself papering my office walls with rejection letters, and later looking back on my days of being rejected with fondness.
I now realize that rejection is just another part of being a writer, and there’s nothing particularly romantic about it. Even blockbuster writers have their manuscripts sent back for revisions from their trusted publishers, and we’ve all heard the stories about famous writers who were rejected over and over again.
Since rejection is part of being a writer, I’ve tried to find ways to not only cope with it, but to turn it to my advantage. Don’t get me wrong — each new rejection stings just as bad as the last. I get angry, sad, frustrated, grumpy — you name it — but then I pull out my story (or write a new story) and try again. As time has gone by, I’ve come to the conclusion that rejection might not only be part of the writing life, it might also help the writing life. Here’s why.
Why Rejection Can Be a Writer’s Best Friend:
1. Being rejected makes having something accepted so much sweeter.
When you’ve been rejected time and time again and you’re expecting yet another ‘no thanks’ in your mailbox, finding a letter or e-mail with the words “We’d like to publish…” is one of the best things ever.
2. Being rejected means you’re a writer.
If you’re being rejected, it means you’re submitting, which means you’re writing, which makes you a writer! Sometimes half the battle is getting to the desk each day to sling words onto paper.
3. Being rejected can teach you about your writing.
During the first few months after I started writing, I submitted work long before it was ready. When I got rejection letters back and pulled my stories out to try to figure out why, I realized the story hadn’t been ready in the first place. The rejection was a clue to let me know that my story needed more work.
4. Being rejected forces you to try harder.
After a few rejections can be the perfect motivator to improve your writing by taking a class or studying some of the great books on how to write available. Being rejected also forced me to try harder when trying to find places to submit my work. I now research each journal (or publisher) I submit to well before I actually send anything in, making sure my story is a fit for them, and setting myself up for a better chance at success.
Here are a few articles about rejection that I’ve found helpful:
Rotten Rejections: The Letters That Publishers Wish They Never Sent
Rejecting Rejection by James Scott Bell: Tips on how to deal with rejection.
Literary Rejections on Display: People share their rejections with the world. You can read them if you want to remember that everyone gets rejected!
25 Things Writers Should Know About Rejection by Chuck Wendig
Every Writer Gets Rejected by Nathan Bransford
Dealing With Rejection by Ellen Jackson
How do you deal with rejection?