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6 Interesting Ways to Handle Rejection as a Writer

Handle Rejection

Handle Rejection as a Writer: Embracing the Journey of Resilience

Nothing is more disheartening for a writer than having high expectations while sending out their work, hoping for publication, only to receive a rejection letter in return. Rejection is an inevitable part of a writer’s life, and almost every writer, even the most celebrated ones like J. K. Rowling and Stephen King, have faced rejection at some point in their careers.

This article goes into the art of handling rejection, understanding its significance, and how to embrace it as a stepping stone towards success.


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Rejection Isn’t the End

REJECTION ISN'T THE ENDIt’s crucial to acknowledge that rejection is not a reflection of one’s worth as a writer. It merely signifies that the publication or magazine was not interested in the material at that particular time. Writers must learn to accept rejection gracefully and use it as an opportunity to explore other publications that might be a better fit for their work. Just like in relationships, forcing someone to love you back never works; similarly, pushing for acceptance from a publication that doesn’t resonate with your writing won’t yield positive results.

Handling rejection requires resilience and a belief in one’s abilities. Understand that each rejection is not a personal attack but a natural part of the writing journey. Rather than dwelling on the disappointment, focus on improving your craft and finding the right audience for your work. Remember, even highly successful authors faced rejections before achieving fame. Embrace rejection as a chance to grow, learn, and refine your writing.

Personal Experience

I’ve faced countless rejections throughout my writing career, especially with short stories and screenplays. Initially, it was disheartening, and I took it personally, believing my work to be better than others. However, receiving feedback on why my pieces weren’t chosen humbled me. It allowed me to see rejection as an opportunity to grow. Learning from others and accepting rejections as room for improvement, not the end, has shaped my perspective. This helped me to refine my craft and view each rejection as a stepping stone.

Discover the Reasons for Rejection

DISCOVER THE REASON FOR REJECTIONUnderstanding the reasons behind rejection can be immensely helpful in refining one’s writing and submission process. While some rejections might not come with explicit feedback, it’s essential to self-reflect and review the publication’s guidelines thoroughly. Ask yourself if your submission aligned with their requirements. Was it within the specified word count? Did you proofread it thoroughly to eliminate grammatical errors? Identifying possible shortcomings can pave the way for improvement and a higher chance of acceptance in the future.

Reach out to the publication, if possible, and inquire politely about the reasons for the rejection. Constructive feedback, if provided, can offer valuable insights into areas that need improvement. Remember, every rejection is an opportunity to learn and grow as a writer. Take this feedback as a chance to strengthen your writing skills and create better pieces for future submissions. Sometimes, the rejection might be due to a mismatch between your work and the publication’s theme or style. In such cases, tailor your submissions accordingly, ensuring a better fit with their preferences.

Personal Experience

Feedback from publishers and judges has been helpful. At least for me it has. I know some don’t take feedback or criticism well. I took their insights seriously, especially during my screenwriting days, and found that they often provided valuable advice on how to improve my stories. While some criticism was harsh, I learned not to take it personally. I also realized that thorough research on specific subject matters and gaining experience in general were crucial to refining my storytelling abilities.

Is the Material Relevant?

IS THE MATERIAL RELEVANTWriters must evaluate the relevance of their work in today’s context. Stories that might have resonated with readers in the past may no longer be in demand. It’s essential to stay informed about current trends and societal interests to ensure that your writing remains captivating and pertinent. Writing about topics that matter to the present moment increases the likelihood of acceptance and engagement with readers.

Consider the themes and subjects that are currently popular and explore how you can infuse your unique voice and perspective into these topics. Adapting your writing to suit contemporary tastes without compromising your style can make your work more appealing to publishers and readers alike. Additionally, remain open to exploring new genres or niches that align with current interests, as this can broaden your reach as a writer and open up new opportunities for publication.

Personal Experience

In the past, I didn’t always follow trends, but I learned to balance writing what I know with current interests. This approach has proven effective, making my work relatable and marketable. While trend-focused stories do have their place, writing from a place of knowledge and experience also resonates with readers, allowing me to explore new opportunities and reach a broader audience.

You Did Your Best

YOU DID YOUR BESTReceiving a rejection doesn’t imply that your writing lacks merit. Sometimes, despite putting in your best effort, a particular piece might not find the right home. It’s essential to avoid becoming fixated on a single story. Instead, keep writing and exploring various genres. Expanding your repertoire can lead to new opportunities and help you discover your strengths as a writer.

Remember that writing is a continuous journey of growth and improvement. Each piece you create contributes to your development as a writer. Embrace rejection as a motivation to push yourself creatively and experiment with different styles, themes, and voices. Sometimes, a rejected piece can be reworked or repurposed into something entirely different, breathing new life into your writing. Embrace rejection as an opportunity to evolve and evolve your craft, knowing that with persistence and dedication, you will find your rightful place in the literary world.

Personal Experience

Tap yourself on the back. Not everyone can achieve writing full stories. My early works were not reworked, as I saw them more as training for future writing. Feedback helped me grow, but these initial stories lacked the relevance to captivate the public. Revisiting old work now, I cringe, but I view it all as a learning experience, recognizing how far I’ve come.

Consider Self-Publishing

CONSIDER SELF-PUBLISHINGIn today’s digital age, self-publishing has become a viable option for writers to share their work with the world. If rejection becomes a recurring theme, consider creating a personal website or blog to showcase your stories and insights. Self-publishing not only allows you to maintain creative control, but also gives you a platform to connect directly with readers and receive valuable feedback.

Obviously, I have used this approach literally to showcase my stories while promoting my first book, Deadly Sins. Building an online presence through self-publishing can garner a loyal readership and help establish your unique voice in the literary community. Utilize social media platforms to promote your work and engage with your audience, building a community of supporters around your writing. As you continue self-publishing, consider submitting your work to literary contests or publications that welcome previously published pieces. Self-publishing can serve as a stepping stone to traditional publishing opportunities and may even attract the attention of literary agents or publishers who see the potential in your work.

Personal Experience

Self-publishing has been both challenging and rewarding. The process, from setting up a publishing company to handling graphic design and legalities, felt overwhelming at times. However, the creative control and royalties it offers make it worthwhile. This journey has helped me understand what to write and where to sell, reinforcing my desire to remain independent and in control of my work.


COPINGThere’s an article written by Rachel Rowlands who is also an author and editor herself who shares coping mechanisms in dealing with the pain or rejection. You can find it here.

I find that understanding the emotional aspects of dealing with rejection is just as important. Once a writer is self-aware of the fact, then they are ahead of moving on faster.

Personal Experience

Initially, rejection hit me hard, but over time, I developed coping mechanisms. The gym, walking my dogs, and talk therapy helped me manage the emotional impact of rejection. I learned the importance of changing my environment, engaging in social activities, and gaining experiences that enriched my writing. This growth has led to better stories and a healthier relationship with my craft.    

Common Questions about Rejection

How do I deal with the emotional impact of rejection? Rejection can be emotionally challenging, but remember that it’s not a reflection of your talent. Surround yourself with supportive peers and mentors who can provide encouragement during tough times.

Should I keep submitting to the same publication after rejection? If your work aligns with the publication’s guidelines and theme, there’s no harm in trying again. However, don’t get fixated on a single outlet; explore other options as well.

Is self-publishing a valid alternative to traditional publishing? Absolutely! Self-publishing empowers writers to take control of their work and reach a global audience. Many successful authors started their careers through self-publishing.

How do I stay motivated in the face of multiple rejections? Remind yourself why you write and focus on the joy of creating. Celebrate small victories and remember that every rejection brings you closer to finding the right platform for your writing.

Can writing groups or workshops help me improve my writing? Yes, joining writing groups or attending workshops can be beneficial. These spaces offer constructive feedback, support, and valuable insights from fellow writers on honing your craft.

Recommended Books and Media on Handling Rejection


Don’t Take It Personally by Elayne Savage, PhD: This book offers insights into the pervasive impact of rejection and criticism, providing strategies to build resilience, maintain self-esteem, and transform personal vulnerabilities into strengths.

Rejection Proof by Jia Jiang: A lively recount of the author’s quest to overcome his fear of rejection through 100 days of intentional exposure, leading to profound insights on turning rejections into opportunities and personal growth.

Bouncing Back from Rejection by Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD: An empathetic guide designed to help readers recover from rejection by developing healthier emotional responses and fostering a resilient self-image that promotes personal healing and confidence.


How to Deal with Rejection Sensitivity

What I learned from 100 days of rejection | Jia Jiang | TED (Author of Rejection Proof)

Final Thoughts

Rejection is an inevitable part of a writer’s journey, but how one responds to it makes all the difference. Embracing rejection as a learning experience and an opportunity for growth is essential in navigating the path to success as a writer. Remember, each rejection brings you closer to finding the right audience for your voice. Stay persistent, keep writing, and believe in the power of your words.