Dealing with Rejection as a Writer

Collecting my mail, I spotted the logo for our local council on one of the envelopes.  My first thought – rates bill.  It turned out to be something completely different.

It was a politely worded rejection letter, my fourth year in a row from that particular company.

Whilst obviously not a fan of rejection letters, this is what I have learnt about dealing with rejection as a writer.

Don’t take it personally

Okay, I know this one is hard. You read the rejection letter and you assume your work sucks.

I believe starting out writing short stories has helped me better handle rejection.

With the first competition I entered, I bought the book of winning entries. Some of the stories were excellent. One was so touching and well written it nearly bought me to tears, which was a bit embarrassing as I was on a public bus heading to work at the time.

Other stories I considered good but I didn’t like the winning story at all. I couldn’t understand how it had won. The judges obviously held a different view. Like movies, short stories are subjective. One person’s box office hit is another person’s dud.

That experience helped me understand it wasn’t personal.

Rejection is part of the business

If I have learnt anything from the piles of writing books and blogs I have read is that rejection is part of being a writer.

Come to think of it, rejection is part of life whether we particularly like it or not. 

Writing (like so many other things in life) is a numbers game. Everyone has heard the stories of now famous authors who were repeatedly rejected before someone finally said yes and they were launched into mega stardom.

As a writer these tales are both inspiring and somewhat scary since no one wants to initially be that person who is continuously rejected.

Related postHow to Deal With Rejection

A rejection is better than no response at all

A lot of time there is no letter. There is no feedback – nothing. You simply see the winning piece of work published in all its glory.

Move on and keep producing new and exciting work. Keep creating.

Check out your competition

With the book of winning short stories I mentioned above, the first thing I read before the stories themselves was the winners’ bios.

I wanted to know if these people had been published before or were new writers like myself? Did they have writing degrees? As it turned out some were experienced and some were new to writing which was positive.

It can be daunting knowing you are up against experienced professional writers – but remember they were new writers once too.

Don’t sulk or get depressed

Did I feel disappointed reading the rejection letter?  I won’t lie, for a brief moment I felt totally deflated.

Did I have an ‘it should have been me’ moment? I’m human so yes I did. The good news is it passed quickly.

Try not to linger on negative thoughts. Negativity could impact you the next time you sit down to write or may hinder your creative process altogether. Instead concentrate of your next plan of attack.

Related post – How to Overcome Feelins of That Should Have Been Me

Think of ways to improve

Look at your work again. What improvements can you make?

Does it need a complete overhaul or some simple changes? Focus on making it a better piece of work.

Look for ways to repurpose your work

Look for other markets where you can submit your story (after revisions naturally). Could you make the story longer or shorter to suit another market?

With blogging, I sometimes forget about my drafts / brainstorming file. I sometimes forget about where I can use work that I have started but not completely finished. Often without realizing you can have a huge amount of untapped work to call upon to repurpose in another direction.

You don’t have to keep reinventing the wheel when it comes to your writing.

If nothing jumps out at you straight away, don’t worry, hold onto the story until an opportunity comes along.

Don’t give up

After I got my rejection letter, I was shortlisted for another short story competition. Unfortunately I didn’t win the main prize but it didn’t matter. Being shortlisted gave me a huge confidence boost.

More than ever, I was determined not to give up on my writing and blogging dream.

When you love doing something, you have to keep going and keep doing your best.

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