Receiving and Rising Above Rejection

Peter-computer-smallSomehow, I inherently realized that not everything I wrote would be a success. I understood rejection was part of the process. I was also stubborn – I mean persistent. It’s still difficult to receive a standard, “This does not meet our editorial needs.” I’ve learned to celebrate my victories and make them shine brighter than multiple rejections. In this post I am referring to shorter pieces, but many of the thoughts may apply to books as well.

Here are some ABC’s (and DEF & G too) to remember when receiving rejection.

A. You’re not being rejected.

Your arrangement of words is being rejected. When you first start out, it is difficult to separate your writing from who you are, but this is an important skill to master. Your words are not you. Each manuscript is only a very small representation of all you are.

Writing - Rejection - not deadB. The words are not dead.

There was no final cigarette, blindfold, or shots from a firing squad. An editor is simply saying no. The same piece could find life the next time you send it out.

C. Your talent isn’t on trial.

Don’t assume your writing is only fit to wrap fish like last week’s news. Often a submission simply doesn’t meet the current need. It might mean, we purchased something like this already, we sold another ad on page 13, or we found what we need for the next couple months.Computer hand typing

D. You did the work of writing.

If only for yourself, it proves you did the work and you sent your work out. That is so much more than many who say they will do something someday.

E. You have something to send out again.

You can research another market and send the article or inquiry out again. You may have to rework your words for the new market, but you won’t need to from the beginning.

F. Your chances and your writing improve.

With each effort you get better, and you learn more about marketing your work. Odds are in your favor that, with persistence, you’ll find yourself accepting a check instead of receiving a rejection.

Writing-computers and Coffe 3G. You can submit to the same place again.

Here’s a secret – unless your words were astonishingly bad, an editor who sees thousands of manuscripts a day is unlikely to recognize seeing the same one again. Wait six to eight months and send it again. A whole new line-up of ideas and needs will be on the table. What didn’t fit before might fit now. (There might even be a new editor at the desk).

A new scientific study even suggests rejection breeds creativity. Who knew? Rejection makes us get out of our comfort zone and try new things, making us stronger and more determined. Did you know Max Lucado’s first book, On the Anvil, was rejected fifteen times? Stephen King’s first novel, Carrie,  30 times. John Grisham’s first book, A Time to Kill, more than 20 times.

When you are feeling discouraged byrejection, remember these important facts. Gain some perspective. Then, keep working. Keep studying your craft. And keep submitting!

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Posted in creativity, Editing, editors, Writing
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16 comments on “Receiving and Rising Above Rejection
  1. dmswriter says:

    The most important part of your headline was the “rising above” part of rejection. It’s so easy to let rejection define us, but it doesn’t. Once we’ve regrouped, rejection can serve as the impetus to do better, to try again, and to learn. It’s important to take a day or so to lick our wounds, but it’s also critical to rise above it and move forward. We’ve all been knocked around and you’re right – we do become attached to those stories we created, and it’s hard sometimes not to take rejection personally.

  2. Definitely some good tips to keep in mind. And it’s always encouraging (to me, at least) to know that famous authors had to slog through the process too.

  3. Cate Macabe says:

    Rejection is always hard to deal with — especially when it concerns a creative endeavor. Thank you for the encouragement and the perspective.

    • Thank you. I am glad to know it was helpful. The article I linked too near the end of the post was interesting too, suggesting that in some ways we should be thankful for rejections. It depends though on how we handle it, which was the inspiration for the article.

  4. Thanks. It helps to put those rejections in perspective.

  5. These were very useful, especially G. I wondered whether submitting the same piece again to the same journal was possible, but never tried it as I was never sure. I’ll be following up on that advice.

  6. susieklein says:

    Thank you, I needed to read this today. The difficult part of freelancing today is that many places do not even send a rejection, you just get silence. I would rather receive a clear cut rejection and cross it off the list.

  7. Early in my writing life, C was always a killer for me. It took me a long time to grasp that being talented and meeting the needs of a publication were two different things. Thanks for the good advice. HF

  8. As a career salesperson, your post resonates well with me! Thanks

  9. EHayes says:

    Love this post, especially B. Too often we think that a mere ‘no’ from another human being (whom we automatically think knows more than we do) is the death of what we’ve submitted.

    Thanks for this reminder. And for pointing out that even the greats were told ‘no.’ A lot.

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