By Melissa Uhles
Have you ever sent out a piece of writing you slaved over only to get that gut wrenching rejection email? I know I have. It’s not a nice feeling. But rejection, when you’re a writer is part of the game. Even if you self-publish or only post to your own blog, the absence of readers is another form of our good friend, rejection.
The good news is, if you plan for it and see the numbers of rejections you collect as badges of honor, you’ll feel better. When I was much younger I competed in Speech and Debate tournaments in high school, sometimes I placed well and sometimes not at all. Then I pursued acting and since this might be the first time you’ve hear my name, that life phase was also filled with rejection.
Here’s the thing. Eventually you will break through in some way! After I wrote my first novel (at age 40) I submitted it to agents and publishers and received so many rejections, I started to feel terrible. Finally, I competed in a Twitter Pitch Party and a niche publisher liked my pitch. I sent the manuscript and signed a contract for the book!
So if you are brave enough to be a writer. Here are my five tips for handling rejection.
Reward Yourself for Rejections
Make yourself a sticker book. Does this sound like something a kid would do? Well this is for the kid in you, okay?Buy some of those gold stars or whatever sticker you like at the dollar store. Pick up a journal. Write down the name of the place you submitted and the date. Every time you get a rejection, you get a star. Once you’ve earned 10 stars, treat yourself to something nice. Maybe go out for ice cream or buy a book you’ve been wanting.
On the Sub it Club blog, Kirsten Larson came up with the idea of rejection bingo. It's a way to flip your thinking to each rejection being like a badge or honor or each one getting you closer to making BINGO.
Talk to a Writer Friend
Non-writer types may not understand what you are going through, but a writer friend who has also risked her self-esteem to send her work will likely give you the pat on the back you need.
If you are anything like I was a few years ago, you might be thinking, what writer friend? If you haven’t connected with another like minded writer yet, you may want to join some writing Facebook groups. Pen and Parent has a closed Facebook group for writer/parents and there are many others online. You might also want to check out an IRL (in real life) writing meetup group in your area as well.
I’ve done both and it can take time to make a connection but even reading a feed and seeing you are not alone in getting rejections helps take the sting out. I’m in a group that also matches critique partners so you can find someone to review your work before you send it out.
Get Some Exercise
Take a walk or go to the gym. The slump created by reading a rejection letter will be lessened by working up some endorphins. If you have a chance to get out in nature, that’s even better. It's amazing how getting the body moving get get new ideas percolating.
As writers we use our hands so much, it's important to get the rest of our body some exercise too. When it's too cold out to leave the house I use a stepper and Simply Fit board with weights while I watch TV.
Perhaps you might have a writer friend or someone you trust read your work and give notes. Try to polish it up and send it out again somewhere new. Persistence is key. Did you know Gone with the Wind was rejected 38 times but later went on to sell 30 million copies? So keep sending out your writing.
If continuing to submit doesn't feel like the right course, you could always publish it yourself on your own blog or self-publish your own book. Even if you go this route, I still recommend going through the paces of submitting elsewhere because the feedback can help you shape your work into something better.
Write Something New
Is this one making your eyes roll? It might feel like the last thing you want to do. First, give yourself permission to take a short break before beginning a new piece of writing.
After you’ve had a few days off to reflect and rest, try committing to 1000 words a day. That way, you’ll have something good and new to send out in no time.
If you need a quote to inspire yourself to keep going, here is one by Theodore Roosevelt that I love.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Do you need to kickstart getting those words on the page? Join our FREE Write 3K in 3 Days Challenge. The link will take you to our home page where you can sign up.
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How have you handled rejection? We’d love to hear about it in the comments.
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