Somehow, 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.
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.
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.
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!