Making the Most of Rejection as a Writer

Whether you’re pitching an epic novel to an agent or posting a short article on your blog, dealing with rejection as a writer sucks. Like you, I dream of a stardust utopia where every sentence I spew out is eagerly swallowed up by the masses—but unfortunately, at this point in my career, I’m far more familiar with dismissal than blind applause. Here are some quick tips that will help you make the most of your next rejection.

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Learn from Past Mistakes

Maybe you spent all week thinking of the best article of your career, but pitched it to the wrong publication. Or maybe you spent too much time describing the surroundings in your last short story, and not enough focusing on the thoughts and motivations of the narrator. Well, don’t waste any more time beating yourself up over it—instead, learn from it, and vow to never do it again.

When you teach yourself to think of every “failure” as a learning experience, you’re destined to grow rapidly as a writer. It’s important to realize that every new project you take on is an opportunity to rewrite your old mistakes. Keeping a project journal is a great way to sort out your thoughts and highlight what you want to do differently next time.

Channel the Anger into Progress

There’s nothing better than the noxious sting of rejection to give you the motivation you need to finally reach the stars. If you’re like me, you’ll want to show the world that you’re far more than a number in the rejection pile—and that you don’t need some editor’s approval to make a name for yourself.

If your story is rejected by one publication, find three more to take its place. If an editor tells you it “isn’t a good fit” for a blog you’ve submitted to, post it on your own! You can even find countless forums across the internet that will help you get your story out into the world. Personally, I’ve found that Reddit is a great tool for reaching a widespread audience.

Don’t Dwell on Past Failures

When you’ve spent all week slaving over a story only to have it rejected, it’s hard not to let the negativity consume you. However, it’s important to realize that the low points of your journey don’t reflect your worth as a writer.

To avoid getting burnt out and overwhelmed in the wake of rejection, you should take some time away from the computer. Draw, play videogames, watch a movie, go for a walk . . . It doesn’t matter what you do to distract yourself, as long as it keeps your mind off writing. This ensures that when you get back to work, you’ll feel refreshed and rejuvenated rather than worn out.

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Remember that You Aren’t Alone

It takes a long time to build a legacy as a writer. Just ask Edgar Allen Poe, who struggled to pay the bills for half his life even though he was destined to be remembered as one of the greatest authors of all time. If your passion lies in a lesser-known genre (such as my personal favorite: Sci-Fi Horror), you can expect a long, thankless climb to the top—just like the great writers that came before you.

And the “curse of the unappreciated writer” isn’t limited to the distant past: all you have to do is take a quick look through Medium to find countless modern-day writers who share your struggle. Last week, I found myself doing this very thing, and I stumbled across an interesting piece by Oliver Miller that made me feel a lot less alone.

Remind Yourself that Your Writing is Valuable

By changing your attitude, you’ll be able to see rejection as an opportunity to improve rather than an attack on your writing style. Dealing with the disappointment isn’t easy, but it’s all part of the journey to reaching your dreams as a writer—and there are countless other writers in every corner of the Earth who are going through the exact same thing as you.

On your darkest days, always remember that your writing is valuable—and so are your rejections. They set you apart from other people, and make you a veteran at overcoming obstacles that others could only dream of.

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