Rejection is brutal. I mean, it really hurts.
When someone rejects your guest post pitch or tells you your story needs more work, your eyes well up, your chest compresses, and you have to wait for your vision to clear before you can pick your heart up from the floor. It’s painful.
Now that you’ve been rejected, you have a few options:
- You crouch in the corner, bawl your eyes out, and swear you’ll never write another word in your life. (I don’t recommend this option.)
- You throw your computer across the room, vent your frustration in the form of profanity, and then quickly regain your composure and head out to buy a new computer. (Please don’t do this.)
- You suck it up, throw the project out, and start working on something new. (This is an okay option, but still not the best.)
- You admit the truth and work it to your advantage. (I’ll give you 100 gold stars for doing this on your first rejection.)
What is the Truth?
The problem is, most newbie writers can’t handle rejection. (*Shyly raises hand and hangs head in shame.*) Sometimes I really do want to pitch my computer out the window, crawl up in a little ball, and cry my heart out.
But there’s a little something newbie writers are missing out on, and most of the time, we writers are too frustrated and offended to actually admit this truth.
It’s time to stop thinking of your rejections as failures and start looking at them as learning experiences.
Here’s the truth: Rejection helps you become a better writer.
How Rejection Helps You Improve
The great thing about a rejection email is that it usually comes with tons of feedback. With this, you can go with options 1, 2, or 3 and get absolutely nowhere, or you can head with option 4 and start reworking your project until it shines.
So when you’re wallowing in self-pity because they didn’t accept your piece, you could instead be studying your rejection letter and learning what parts of your writing need work.
How to Deal With Rejection
Rejection hurts most because it feels like people are rejecting you, but that’s not the case at all. Sometimes publishers or blog owners simply can’t work with your piece because it’s not right for their audience.
Remember It’s Not Personal
The first thing you have to do is remember that rejection isn’t a reflection on you as a person. The blog owner or publisher isn’t saying he or she hates you. In fact, they’re not even saying they hate your work.
What it really means is that they have a lot of submissions coming at them all at once and yours didn’t stand out. That doesn’t mean it’s bad.
Next, be honest with yourself. Did you really put that much work into it where it warranted acceptance? For instance, if you plan on guest posting, you could put all your time into writing the post, but if you don’t actually research the site, build a relationship, and write for the audience, they’re going to put your post in the rejection pile no matter how well-written it is. So is it really a reflection on your writing? Most likely not.
Remind Yourself You’re Not Alone
When it happens, you feel you’re the only person in the world getting rejected, but you’re not. Kathryn Stockett, author of the best-selling book The Help, got rejected for publication 60 times before her book finally got published. Come on, your situation can’t be that bad.
How You Can Use Rejection to Your Advantage
You get it. Rejection can make you a better writer. But what exactly can you do about it?
First, take a good look at the rejection letter. Consider why they rejected your project, and then get to work on making the necessary revisions.
Perhaps you need help jumpstarting those revisions. Here’s what I suggest:
- Have a friend look at your project. Since they can’t actually “reject” you and can only give constructive criticism (unless you have really mean friends), you’ll get a better idea of what needs reworking.
- Take a good look at what the website/publisher does like. Research what’s different between your project and the projects they’ve published in the past. Is your novel too short? Are your characters unlikeable? Is your writing style somehow different?
- Start reworking your project. You’ll never get better until you can identify your weaknesses and practice until you beat them out of yourself, so get to work on polishing your project.
But I get it. Sometimes no one gives you enough feedback to work with and you sit there racking your brain wondering where you went wrong.
Here’s my advice: send it off to someone else.
I’m guessing if they didn’t give you feedback, it’s not you. It’s them. Here’s my logic: If they don’t have time to give you feedback, they’re likely swamped with submissions and simply don’t have the capacity to accept your pitch.
But if you take the leap, someone else will either give you feedback you can use, or they’ll accept your project.
I know, rejection is tough, but if you take it as a learning experience rather than a setback, you 1) don’t have to worry about the whole wallowing in self-pity and eating your feelings thing and 2) get an awesome experience to improve your writing talents.
Be honest. How have you dealt with rejection in the past?
Now I want you to put this to practice. Take a look back at a piece that’s been rejected (whether it’s a story, blog post, etc.). Take some time to revisit the rejection letter and evaluate where you went wrong and where you can make changes to your project. Spend fifteen minutes working on one of these changes.
If you haven’t yet encountered rejection, spend fifteen minutes outlining what you’ll do when you get your first rejection letter.
Share your ideas and practice in the comment section.