Six Ways to Embrace Rejection

Rejection.  It happens to all of us.  Those who succeed in this business have to figure out how to deal with it.  Here are some suggestions for taking it easier:

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?

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7 Responses to Six Ways to Embrace Rejection

  1. Kia says:

    This is a great post, Beth. I especially love idea #4. Seems that would a great cathartic moment for all involved.

  2. Beth Browne says:

    Thanks, Kia! A rejection party is great fun and a wonderful way to celebrate our writer peeps. I can’t take credit for the idea, it came from one of my writer peeps!

  3. JM Kelley says:

    Love it. I have every rejection saved. I don’t read them, but I peek at that email folder sometimes to remind myself that a ‘no’ doesn’t mean all doors are closed. Eventually you find one that’s unlocked.

  4. Beth Browne says:

    Very true! Thanks for reading and commenting!!

  5. Robin Johnston says:

    Failure is a great teacher.

  6. Shelby Lloyd. says:

    I will do as you say. I am now sending out my manuscript to a few agents at a time. No one has proimised me anything yet but sitll I’m going to keep going.

  7. Thanks for these suggestions, Beth. I was getting pretty down when I got that 26th rejection e-mail!

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