Monday, June 17, 2019

Staying Positive After a Rejection


It happens to everyone at some point in their writing life.

This year, I've been trying some new things. I'm challenging myself in new directions. So, rejection has been happening and I still keep on writing and I keep on sending out queries for short stories, novels, and poems, and I'm still okay. 

But rejection stings. 

On some days, I might struggle for a minute or two (or sometimes a few hours) with an icky, insecure worry that maybe all of my work sucks. I have had moments where I've looked at the subject line of an e-mail in my inbox and just not opened it for a few minutes. 

I have to remind myself that my work is still okay, that it's not for everyone, but there is a market for it. I have to find ways to stay positive.

I know I'm not the only one who struggles with rejection. I've read posts from fellow writers who are struggling with it. 

While preparing for this article, I also found a post by Anne R. Allen entitled: "Rejection: Why It Feels So Awful and 7 Ways to Heal the Hurt."  It contains information from a psychological study on rejection. 

So, the hurt from rejection happens to many of us and it is real. But to succeed as writers, we still need to move forward and keep writing, keep submitting our work, and keep ourselves positive. 

How do we do that?

I would like to say I'm all wise and knowing, but I'm not, so I asked for some help from some fellow writers via e-mail, Instagram, and Twitter. Here's what we came up with:

Tips for Staying Positive After a Rejection

Take a deep breath, take a walk, pray, go outside and look up. 
Find your favorite part of your story, novel, or poem, and read it again. 
Look up stories of famous authors who were rejected multiple times before making it. If they could survive the storm of rejection, so can we! 
- Tyrean Martinson - author, teacher, and IWSG Admin

Remember, it’s not personal – it’s business. Don’t let your ego take a hit.
 - L. Diane Wolfe - author, publisher, and IWSG Admin  

If I’m lucky enough to get some feedback with the rejection, I pay attention to it. If the reject is simply a no, I check that submission as unsuccessful and try again. If I get several rejections for the same piece; then I know I need to work on it, and I go through it again before sending it off to a keen-eyed editor. Repeat the process.
- C. Lee Mckenzie - author and IWSG Admin

Stephen King wrote in On Writing that he put a roofing nail in the wall and was going to quit once it filled with rejections. Once it was full, he added another nail. Knowing rejection is part of the process keeps me from getting too disappointed. Learn from the no and keep going. 
- Elizabeth Seckman - author and IWSG Admin

In the days of snail-mail, I used to tape rejection slips to the wall until it became quite shaggy with them. I had a series of favorites from Gordon Lish.
And - Have the next market you're going to send the piece to already lined up and ready to go.
- Cat Rambo on Twitter - author, editor, teacher, and President of the SFWA

And remember that the rejections is from ONE person and not the whole world!!!
- Soulla Christodoulou @soullasays on Instagram - author, blogger

And, this last thought for staying positive- find a community. We can share our insecurities. We can encourage one another. That's what IWSG is all about. 


L. Diane Wolfe said...

A rejection is just from one person and only meant it wasn't right for them.

I'll never forget this analogy from another business I was a part of many years ago - when a waitress brings a meal and offers ketchup, she doesn't go back and cry if they say no. The customer didn't reject her - he just didn't want ketchup. No big deal. Next!

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I've been in that place where you see the subject line of that submission email and you hold your breath for just a moment before opening it. Been there, done that, and will do it again because that's part of being a writer. :)

Natalie Aguirre said...

I haven't gotten to submitting yet, maybe in part because I don't want to be that rejected. But seeing the industry and how hard it is, even for published writers who make the NY Times bestseller list, helps me keep my perspective on getting published.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

If there's feedback, treasure it. It can help make the next query better.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Tyrean - great ideas here ... nothing can keep us down, nor should it - we can always do what we love ... just dust ourselves off and keep going ... cheers Hilary

Juneta key said...

What a great post. Love all the wonderful quotes you collected from IWSG writer members. That was awesome.

Pat Hatt said...

Great tips indeed. Can't and will never please everyone, but there are a few you will. Just have to find them.

Himawan Sant said...

A very good article, reinforcing the disappointment of the rejection.

Let's just say that if we are rejected it means God has a beautiful plan behind it.

One day God will open the way for us.

nashvillecats2 said...

I certainly can relate to rejection.....even if its my own family.
But my door is always "Open" so I guess I am positive in that situation.
Great post Alex.

Lynda Dietz said...

I try to stress that to people when I'm editing. I'm only telling you what will work better in a particular spot; I'm not saying you're a terrible human being.

I like L. Diane Wolfe's example of the waitress and ketchup! I tend to think of having someone clean your house and then being upset because they're implying your house is dirty. We hired them for a reason, and it's not personal.

SpacerGuy said...

Exactly with the right spirit and attitude one should never falter in finding that special niche of readers. I believe its important to find the right hook and knowing the ending always helps. Isaac Asimov has written books in one sitting! Sounds incredible, I know.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Diane - I'm going to have to post the phrase "no ketchup" on my writing board to remind me of this!

Madeline - yes, it is.

Natalie - yes, having perspective is a good thing.

Alex - so true!

Hilary - yes, just keep on keeping on.

Juneta - Thanks!

Pat - that's right. Let the hunt begin! :)

Himawan - true.

Nashville - thanks!

Lynda - yes, it's not about our personal selves, it's about the work.

Spacer Guy - yes, having a good niche of readers is good.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Rejection stinks! But it's always good to know we always have company in that misery.

Danielle de Valera said...

I've had a novel rejected via email on Christmas Eve. Very Dickensian.Merry Christmas, kid.