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Sunday, February 05, 2012

How I Deal With Rejection ~ A Few of My Personal Pearls of Wisdom

The Rejection Letter.

We all get 'em. Some are short, blunt and shoot-from-the hip. Others are longer, offering (if you're lucky) tips on how to improve your idea. But no matter how they read or who they come from, they can still sting.

Here on The Muffin, we give you tons of suggestions on how to avoid that rejection pile. Sometimes, though, even when you think you've done everything possible--crossed all the 't's' and dotted your 'i's', your manuscript, article or pitch can still receive a, "Thanks, but no thanks." Believe me, I know how frustrating that can be.

Earlier in my writing career, I fell apart everytime I'd gotten one of those letters. I did everything from cry to wonder what was wrong with the editor who turfed my idea to treatening to give up. But I was never discouraged from continuing to try. In fact, each rejection made me try harder the next time and that's exactly what you have to do.

The writing business can be very tough and competitive. But there is room for each of us in the arena because we each have something unique to bring to the table. Today's post isn't about how to avoid that rejection pile; it's about using those rejections as sources of inspiration to keep plowing ahead (Go with me on this...):

~ Try, try again. A rejection of an idea or manscript doesn't mean your writing sucks (as I believed early on that it did). It means that your idea may not fit in with the editorial line up or that they just covered the subject you're pitching or, maybe, they just didn't connect with your idea. Don't harp on one person's opinion. Just pick yourself up, dust your query off and take it to another place.

~ Look closer before re-sending. Take this as a second chance to catch something you missed the first time so that when you pitch the idea to the next place, it'll get grabbed. Look over your manuscript or query letter with a fine-toothed comb and make sure of things like clarity, originality, the editorial guidelines, etc.

~ Use the emotions to give you strength, not tear you down. Be angry, be upset, geez, cry if you need to. But don't let those negative feelings talk you into giving up. Take that anger and project it into your passion to keep moving forward.

~ Someone read your work/idea. Okay, they didn't jump for joy and beg you to take it on but they read it, right? I always tell myself that much. If the editor or publisher took the time to send a letter out to you (even if it was one of those stuffy form letters), they at least considered your work.

~ It's an opportunity to learn. I've had some wonderful editors who have taken the time to explain why my idea or piece didn't quite work. I cannot tell you how much I have appreciated that advice. I've tucked away each pearl I've gotten and used it as a way to improve my writing. There really are editors who take the time to do that because they've been right where you are. These are the editors who see you have potential and are giving you a bit of insight on how to take it all the way.

The most important piece of advice I can give you is to stay true to yourself and your talent. Don't allow the rejection of one publication to tear apart your dreams of becoming a writer or to change the vision you have. I wouldn't be where I am today if I'd listened to the few who suggested I stick with one thing or another.

As author/writer/instructor Mary Rosenblum always tells new writers: Wear your rejection letters like badges of honor. It took me a while to understand what she meant by that but, essentially, she's saying you're making your mark and that you should be proud of the fact you're out there trying. Many writers have the dream, but not the courage to make it a reality.

Keep trying! The next one could be that yes you've been waiting for.


PS: Just the other day I got a rejection for an article query but was connected to an interview that turned into another writing project. So...there you go! You may not get that initial job you hoped for but it could lead to other things.


  1. I've never understood people getting upset over rejections. Sure, they're disappointing, but not worth being traumatized about.

    I remember actually being thrilled when I got my first magazine rejection. It meant I had started the ball rolling, and the world didn't crack open! I was well-armed to try it again.

    I sold an article on my second query, and with what I learned from the first rejection, I later pitched that same magazine with success. Keep moving! Save your tears for something that really matters.

  2. EXACTLY, Kelly! It's all a learning process and getting the ball rolling. Thanks so much for sharing your insight. =D


  3. I've gotten so many of them I'm beyond any negative emotion by now. It's just the business of trying to break into something that has a 1%-2% success rate.

    A rejection, no matter the type, can tell you a lot about your query/submission process. Use that to work from when you send the next one out.

  4. Anonymous10:48 AM

    I'm so glad writers are willing to share their opinions on this subject. I'm hoping to start shopping my very first completed novel this summer and these insights help a lot. I also get a lot of great help from my critique group. having access to articles and people 'in the know' helps with breaking in.


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