Within a span of four weeks, I received rejection emails from three publications and two publishers. How did I react? I hid under my cozy blanket, warming myself with self-pity. I demanded attention from my husband, who spoiled me with countless cups of tea and hours of pep talks to make me feel better. I extracted cuddles and kisses from my son. I also poured out my heart to my pup, Kyle, who listened without offering advice. I tried to escape my reality by watching NCIS on Netflix.
And then, as I crashed and burned, I ran to God and asked Him to fix things for me.
I’m new to writing and publishing. I’m still figuring out how to get through a season of rejections but here are my thoughts on what not to do post-rejection.
Don’t Not Write
My confidence in my writing abilities took a back seat when rejections piled on. It was hard to go back to my laptop and craft mind-blowing sentences when I believed I was not good enough to be published. After spending a few days doing anything but writing—organizing my jewelry, sanitizing counter tops in my house, and trying to teach my dog to lip-read—I missed writing. I sat down and wrote an article on my own blog. Where I make the rules. Family and friends responded with gracious comments and feedback, and I started to think I was not a bad writer after all.
Write on your own blog to overcome a temporary setback in your confidence. And shamelessly promote the blog.
Don’t Not Tell Anyone
When an article of mine is accepted and published, I can’t stop sharing the news with everyone I know. But I’m silent about my rejections, not just on social media but even with close friends. I don’t want them to get the impression that I’m failing as a writer.
Except for my husband and son and my prayer partner, I rarely disclose to anyone when I get a polite email saying, “No, thanks.”
Last week, one such email hit my inbox just as I was entering the dentist’s office. When she asked me how my writing was going, I told her I got rejected for an article I had spent hours writing. I’m not sure what she thought of me, but I was relieved. Maybe she thought I was a bad writer, or maybe she thought I was going through a bad phase. I don’t know. But the thought occurred to me that she might have pity on me and drop the $$$ she’s charging to extract my wisdom tooth!
Tell a friend or even an acquaintance about your rejection. Announce it on social media. Who knows how a friend’s comment might give you a fresh perspective on the situation and lift your spirits!
Don’t Not Expect Rejections
Rejections are to writers what fuel is to cars or rockets. They launch us forward and help us become better writers. As long as we want to keep writing and publishing, rejections will keep coming, whether from editors, publishers, or readers.
When I worked as a Quality Manager for a hotel many suns ago, I learned that a complaint from a hotel guest is a gift. It’s an opportunity to look for flaws in processes and products and improve them to better serve our guests. The same perspective can be applied to writing. At the end of the day, rejections force us to work hard until our writing sings so that we can better serve our readers.
Accept rejections as growing pains. Expect to get better and stronger.
Don’t Not Pray
It is tempting to try everything else before I take my problems to God. I try to fight this urge to wander. But when I go to God first with my insecurities and fears, He reminds me of my identity in Christ and equips me to face rejection with the right mindset. Spending time with God allows me to go back to the basics of my calling as a writer. Why do I write? To be published and pursue fame, or to serve my readers and glorify God? Prayer helps me align my heart with God’s will. It helps me reinforce my belief in His sovereignty. He knows what’s best for me and He’s working in me to refine my faith.
Soak your writing and rejections in prayer. In God’s presence, you will regain perspective and find guidance for next steps and fresh ideas for writing.
I must admit that I take rejections personally, especially when they all come at once. Though I’m learning how not to deal with rejections, I know deep down that God blessed me with the ability to write. And I want to be faithful to my calling. So, two days ago, I submitted an almost 2000-word essay to a magazine and put myself out there again. Because that’s what writers do.
How do you deal with rejection? Is there something in particular that helps you?