How writers deal with rejection

Jun 16, 2020

For writers, it's not uncommon to receive hundreds of rejection letters every year. After your first few dozen, this industry can start to feel soul-crushing. You might start wondering why you bother, or, even worse, feel like you don’t have what it takes.

This is when you have to keep going, no matter what, so that you can achieve your writing dreams. Here's how to recover when rejection has you doubting yourself:

1. Remember that feedback is subjective.

When it comes to writing, all feedback is subjective. There’s no doubt about it. One editor might think that your piece is the best thing since sliced bread. Another editor might think that it’s lacking in description, because he loves pieces with extensive description about everyone and everything. Neither one is better or worse, just different.

The bottom line is that each editor has very different tastes, and it can affect their decisions when it comes to your writing. Even tougher to swallow, an editor might really enjoy your piece but it doesn't fit with what her magazine is publishing right now. These are all aspects of the publishing world that you have to keep in mind.

2. Take constructive feedback to heart.

On occasion, editors will give you helpful advice about what is and what is not working in your piece. Take this advice to heart. They know what they are talking about, and have taken their valuable time to provide you with their insights. This means a lot because editors have extremely busy schedules and wouldn’t take the time to provide you with feedback unless they really believed in you as a writer.

3. Keep writing.

Even if you have gotten what feels like a million rejections, it is important to continue to submit your writing to contests, agents, editors, and magazines. You never know when it will get published. The only way to improve your craft is to continue practicing it. If you are really struggling with this, consider taking a writing class. You'll have the opportunity to practice writing in a supportive space, and can learn some valuable techniques for improving your chances at publication later.

4. Keep submitting.

Your writing might be being rejected for a number of reasons. Maybe you need to improve your writing skills so that your pieces have more focus. Maybe you simply need to write the best query letters known to mankind. Maybe you need to do more research to find the right editors who will be receptive to your work.

Maybe you need to spend a few more minutes editing your work before you submit it. Whatever it is, address the issue and continue submitting your work. Practice makes perfect, as they say.

5. Explore other methods of publishing your work.

Maybe you are set on being traditionally published if you are an author. If you’ve queried every agent on the planet and not one of them has agreed to publish your work, publish it yourself. If you do so, make sure that your work is edited thoroughly and that your cover art is compelling. You’ll have to do a lot of marketing, but it could be a huge hit. You never know.

If you are only targeting high-profile, "name" publications, try focusing on smaller publications to build up your portfolio. If you are only submitting your work to magazines, try submitting it to writing contests as well. This could work wonders for your career.

Whatever you do, never give up. Keep writing every day. Continue pursuing your dreams and working hard. I assure you that it will pay off if you remain consistent.

This is a post from a member of the Freelancers Union community. If you’re interested in sharing your expertise, your story, or some advice you think will help a fellow freelancer out, feel free to send us your blog post.

Daniella Cressman

I'm a freelance writer. My work has appeared in BirdWatching Magazine, Best Poets of 2019, Upon Arrival, and Teen Ink Magazine. I also do quite a bit of ghostwriting.