Rejection: A Writer’s Best Friend?

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.

Further Reading:

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?

Author: Carrie Mumford

Carrie Mumford is a writer and content manager living in Calgary, Alberta. She write short stories and non-fiction articles, and blogs about technology, editing, writing and (of course) books.

  • And there’s usually something to learn from every rejection. Plus don’t take rejections personally!

    Great post, Carrie, because we all need to be reminded.

  • While rejection letters may not be very romantic, they do hold a certain appeal. They are “battle scars”. It means you tried and didn’t give up the fight.

    And that’s something to be proud of.

    • Thanks J.S. – I wholeheartedly agree! I don’t talk about my rejections in public often, but each one does make me a little bit stronger (or thickens my skin even more).

  • Wonderful post, Carrie!

    I used to be terrified of rejections. I would start sending out queries, then after like the third one I would tell myself something is wrong with the book. So, I’d stop querying and go back to the book, which was a safer place for me to be.

    I’m not sure how I made that leap over the fire, but now I’ve returned to querying and stopped messing around with my book.

    I think you are “oh so right” about what a rejection really means. This is why I get a little miffed at people who get rejected, don’t bother to ask themselves “why,” blame the agents and the process, and go self-publish wthout seriously rethinking their ms. For the most part, these are the “authors” who simply weren’t ready in the first place, and that is why they got rejected.

    We can’t forget that in most cases (sure some slip through) publishers and agents know what they’re doing and will snap up a good ms when they see it. One round of rejections isn’t enough to say “oh well, I’ll just self-publish and show them!”

    • I couldn’t agree more! I think I’d give self-publishing a try if I was receiving lots of rejections that said something along the lines of ‘we don’t see a market for this piece’ though. There are those niche books that are hard for publishers to place.

      I also don’t mind that it sometimes takes a few months to hear back from a publisher – that space from my story often makes it easier for me to find the gaps (or the strengths) when I go back to it after a response from a publisher.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  • As the author of The Positively Productive Writer, I have to agree with what you say here. The other point I’d like to make is that many writers perceive rejection to be the end of the story, but if you don’t let rejection get you down, it can be the start of a whole new relationship.

    For more information about The Positively Productive Writer see my website, or

  • This is a wonderful way to look at rejection not only when writing words but in life overall as well. Thanks for writing this.

  • Rejection is a major hurtle. I find these suggestions really helpful. A few non-artist individuals in my support network read this post after I sent it to them and I think it gave them more insight in how to encourage me. Thank you!

    • Glad you found it useful, Alexis! You raise a really good point: it’s hard for those around creative types to understand rejection. You’ve given me an idea for a new post. Thank you!

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