As a writer, unless you only ever write on your own site, you will, at some point, face rejection.
It can be soul destroying when you’ve spent hours, maybe even weeks in the case of a novel, pouring your heart onto a page just for someone to come along and say they don’t like it.
Not only can be it be upsetting, but it can also massively shake your confidence and make you feel as though your writing isn’t good enough.
No longer do you read “Thank you for your submission, unfortunately we can’t take this further at this time” to mean that they’re overloaded already, or it just wasn’t for them.
You start to read it as:
“You’re not good enough.”
“Why are you even bothering?”
When it gets to that point, it can be dangerous and if you let those thoughts spiral out of control, you risk reaching the place where you will never write again.
Don’t let that happen to you.
Here are some tips on how to overcome rejection as a writer:
Remember, It’s Only Someone’s Opinion
Have you ever read a bestselling book that everyone’s raving about and got to the end and realised you didn’t really think it was all that? That doesn’t mean the book isn’t good. It doesn’t mean it isn’t successful. It just means it isn’t to your taste.
Often, in the case of an article or book you wrote being rejected, that’s all that’s happened. The piece wasn’t to the person’s taste.
Of course if you’ve done your research before submitting your piece (and if you haven’t, then naturally you’re going to get a lot of rejections – submitting the next big romance saga isn’t going to win you any prizes if the person you submit it to only deals with hard core horror) then you know the person in question has an interest in your piece.
It could just be a simple case of that particular person not liking the story, or the characters, or any one of a million things. This doesn’t mean your piece is bad. It just means the person rejecting it didn’t love it enough to work with it.
And that’s ok. If you are submitting a novel to a literary agent, you don’t want someone who thinks your book idea is ok. You want someone who loves it, who will champion it, and who will sing it’s praises at every opportunity. This person is out there. You just haven’t found them yet.
It Happens To Us All
When you get your first rejection, your third rejection, and your twelfth rejection, it can be easy to feel like giving up. Remember that every writer faces this. Even Harry Potter got rejected before J K Rowling found the agent who would go on to make her millions.
If you get rejected, you’re up there with the greats. When they started out, chances out they were an unheard of new writer in a sea full of experienced, best selling writers. Just like you are now. And the difference between those experienced, best selling authors and those who don’t make it is quite often one key thing; they didn’t give up.
They brushed the rejection off, and carried on. They fought for their book, and continued to submit it until eventually, the magic happened and they found that person who read it and knew it could be big.
Keep going. You will find that person. And until you do, don’t settle for second best.
Rejection Forces You To Grow As A Writer
Not many agents will give feedback as to why they rejected your manuscript. Partly because they don’t have time, partly because it opens a can of worms, and partly because they don’t really care about hurting your feelings.
Over time though, if you are getting rejection after rejection, you do have to reach the point where you look back over that manuscript, the one you fell in love with, and ask yourself what you need to change to give it the wow factor.
You might think you won’t find anything. Trust me, you will.
You will see the plot holes and the little mistakes. Don’t beat yourself up about them, fix them and resubmit your manuscript. If necessary, contact a professional editor or proof reader. They will often spot the little things you hadn’t even noticed and make your story really pop.
It Also Forces You To Grow As A Person
Rejection toughens us up. You will learn, in time, to brush it off. If there’s any genuine advice, take it and move on. If there isn’t, just move on.
It’s that simple.
It can and will teach you the harsh lesson that not everyone will love your writing. Not everyone will think you’re a superstar in the making. And you will also learn that that’s ok. It can be a hard lesson to learn, but once you really accept it, then you are setting yourself free.
You are now free to write whatever you choose, without fearing rejection. You are free to find the working relationship that excites you and motivates you to be better.
You are free of fear, and fear is the biggest creativity killer out there.
It’s Ok To Cry!
This might sound counter productive and a bit contradictory to what I’ve said so far, but you know what? You’re human and rejection will hurt. And it’s ok to admit it.
Own the feeling, cry, scream, curse and get angry. Do whatever you need to do to move past the negativity.
Then send a polite thank you for your consideration email (you never know when you might want to submit something else to that agent) and then move on.
Let go of the negativity and move on to bigger and better things.
Most Importantly, Never Give Up
I can’t stress this one enough. Rejection can make us feel like giving up. Resist that feeling. Remember why you started writing in the first place, and hold on to that.
Strive to make it happen, or change tactics completely.
However you choose to move forward, that’s the key. Moving forward. Let’s face it, if getting a book deal, or a column in Vogue was easy, everyone would do it.
The people who actually do it are the ones who didn’t give. They are the ones who kept moving forward, even when it was the hardest thing they’d ever done.
Be that person. Be the person who embraces difficulty and throws it out of the ball park. Be the person who laughs at the fences in your way and scales them as though they aren’t there. Be the person who breaks the barriers and gets it done.
Have you ever faced rejection as a writer? How did you deal with it? Let me know in the comments 🙂