1. Give yourself credit. If you don’t send your work out, you will never get published. It’s as simple as that. So, when you get a rejection, clap yourself on the back, buy yourself a mocha frappe with extra cream, consider a revision and send it out again.
2. Understand the industry. One of my first acceptances was for a poem that contained three adverbs (honest!) and was not my favorite of the three I’d sent. When I received the journal in the mail, I saw that the editor had a dark (unspoken) theme going in that issue and my poem fit. It may not have been the best poem, but it fit. When you get a rejection, remember that it may have nothing at all to do with the quality of your work.
3. Move on. It hurts. So, let it hurt. Cry, punch a pillow, throw darts at a photo of the rejecter, wallow in misery for a day or so, and then let it go. Move on. Pick yourself up and find ten more editors, five more agents, consider -gasp- self-publishing, whatever might work for this particular piece of your work. Or put it down for a while and start a new piece. Just don’t give up. Giving up is a sure way to fail in this industry.
4. Hold a rejection party. Invite all your writer friends to come to a rejection party. Entrance fee is one rejection letter. Display them with pride and celebrate your ongoing commitment to your craft. Or have a big bonfire and burn them. Have fun.
5. Give yourself a reward. Set a goal to collect a certain number of rejections. When you reach that number give yourself a special present. In my case, I give myself a trip to the thrift store. But, it could be a box of chocolates, a ticket to a first-run movie or the purchase of a special book on your wish list; whatever makes you happy.
6. Honor your rejections. Keep them in a special place, like a box or a file or a drawer. Pin them to the wall, make an altar with candles and a pretty piece of fabric and say a few words over each one, giving thanks to the rejecter for considering your work. Try to say it like you mean it.
These are just a few of my ideas for handling and even embracing rejection. How do you manage this difficult and necessary part of being a writer?