As writers, we all know that rejection is a normal and (sometimes very) frequent part of submitting one’s work for publication. But it’s not always an easy obstacle to overcome, especially for new writers who are more inclined to become discouraged. In this guest blog post, author Michael Young offers suggestions on how to not only accept rejection as a part of the writing life, but also how to get over it and move on.
Rejection: A Badge Of Honor
Rejection is part of any author’s life, and if you don’t learn how to cope with it, you may burn out quickly. Everyone handles rejection differently, but here are some ways I have found to stay sane:
Allow Some Time To Mourn (But Not Too Long). Trying to pretend that something doesn’t affect you when it does serves no purpose. Feeling a little genuine grief can actually be a cathartic experience. But do put a cap on it. If you languish with a bag of Oreos for a week after every rejection, you might be overdoing it. I usually allow myself 24 hours to feel bad about a rejection, and I don’t feel guilty about mourning a bit. Then, however, I honor my agreement with myself and set it aside.
Remind Yourself Of Your Successes. It can be easy to focus on the negative after a rejection. Sometimes, it dredges up all the memories of past rejections, and these start to seem like a mountain whose shadow you might never escape. It does so much good in these times to remember the times I have succeeded. Your successes need not be large, but I promise you, if you peek out from behind the cloud of pessimism, you will find them.
Take Time To Appreciate The Success And Effort Of Others. Rejections can hurt, especially when observing the success of others around you. It is easy to forget all the time, struggle, and anguish another person in a similar situation had to suffer before achieving success. I remember reading a quote from the famous basketball player Michael Jordan, in which he expressed his regret that at the height of his career, he made playing professional basketball look so easy. So many young boys thought they could be just like him, but didn’t understand all of the practice, the failures, and the immense amount of time it took for him to get to where he was. After a rejection, I make it a point to spend a little less time on social media, where people most often display their best news, so that I am not tempted by jealousy. If I do see something, I give my best effort to appreciate that person’s effort and to remember that it might very well be me someday.
Get Back In The Saddle. I believe persistence will take you farther in life than even talent. Talent without persistence is hollow. No matter how hard it seems, you need to launch into your next project and keep revising and submitting. I often remember that Abraham Lincoln ran many times for public offices and lost all of the elections until the big one. He’s now so famous that his face gets to be on a bill, a coin, and a Steven Spielberg movie. Did I mention the big shrine in Washington, DC? Maybe that won’t happen for you, but one thing is for sure—your writing won’t live on if you quit.
Above all, I realize that rejection is a part of life. Sometimes, I even find the audacity to smile at it. A rejection means you overcame your fear of trying. That is so much farther than most people go. For every writer, singer, actor, or whatever, there are thousands who wished they had the courage and patience to be any one of those things. A rejection is not a black mark on your record, but a badge of honor.
About Michael Young:
Michael is a graduate of Brigham Young University with a degree in German teaching and a minor in music. He puts his German to good use teaching online German courses for high school students. Though he grew up traveling the world with his military father, he now lives in Utah with his wife, Jen, and his two sons. Michael enjoys acting in community theater, playing and writing music, and spending time with his family. He played for several years with the handbell choir Bells on Temple Square, and is now a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
He is the author of the novels THE CANTICLE KINGDOM, THE CANTICLE PRELUDE, and THE LAST ARCHANGEL. He is also the author of the inspirational pamphlet PORTRAIT OF A MOTHER, a contributor to the anthology PARABLES FOR TODAY, and the author of several Web serials through BigWorldNetwork.com. His most recent work is SING WE NOW OF CHRISTMAS, an anthology of short stories with the proceeds going to charity. He has also had work featured in various online and print magazines such as Mindflights, Meridian, The New Era, Allegory, and Ensign.
Find out more about Michael Young on his blog.
I love this. As moderator of a writing support group, our goal is to encourage people to submit and stop fearing rejection, before even considering self-publication. Too many want to avoid rejection and publish long before they’re ready. Thanks!
So true. You have to persist and acknowledge that the rejections and failures must not be dwelt on. Life is just quirky. When I started writing I entered local competitions and got back acerbic comments. I still do! I now only enter national competitions and have met with success with my poetry. The artist who repeatedly enters a local artist exhibition and never gets a mention needs to move on. You need to up your submission skills, if possible every time you submit a novel, short story or poetry. You do need to take away what is given as constructive criticism, but not be put off by individuals, who themselves are narrowly focused on one genre. This can be case. You need to look around and find your market. Try other mediums. Maybe audio or kindle and submit to specific publishers who like and specialize in your genre–romance, historical or science fiction novel. Don’t be surprised if you get an offer of publication from a source outside their specialty. They may be seeking to expand and branch out.