Monday, February 13, 2017

3 Ways to Move Past Rejection

Anyone who's been writing for a while has known rejection. Whether an unaccepted article or book query, a polite decline from an agent, an unkind blog comment, or a bad book/article review, rejection can be hard to swallow. It stings. And it sometimes creates an argument in your head. True story: I had a mental conversation with the person that posted the two star Amazon review for my book. I felt my head was the best locale because a) I don't know them and b) I'm too polite to say anything if I did know them, and c) sometimes it's just better to keep your mouth shut. 

While we know that rejection is part of life and serves to help build character, it can make us doubt our abilities. We might be hesitant to submit again, finish that story, contact a potential freelance client, speak at a writer's workshop, or to just write anything at all. It might even make us hesitate to stick our heads outside ever again. (Okay, maybe that's just a tad dramatic.) 

When our confidence wavers, so can productivity. So how can we move past the sting of rejection?

1) Keep it in perspective - Rejection does not mean you are a lousy writer. It means that whatever you wrote this time around was not suited to the market, readership, publication, reviewer, etc. Not everything you write will be everyone's cup of tea. And that's okay.

Despite this rejection, the sun will still rise and set tomorrow. Your family, friends, and pets still love you. God still loves you. You are here for a purpose, and wallowing around in rejection for great lengths of time does nothing to help you live life to the fullest.

2) Recall and value past accomplishments - Did you finish that writing class you took last year? Did you attend and meet other scribes at the writing conference? Was your poem published in the church bulletin? Did that children's riddle get accepted? Does your blog have followers? Did you have an answer to that writing question someone asked you?

Recall past successes, writing related or not, no matter how small. No need to get a big head here, but celebrating the positive can refresh and rejuvenate our mindset. Remember too, that you're on this earth for a purpose. You can affect those around you for good. A kind word or gesture can go a long way. Technically "published" or not, you still have something good to say. 

3) Keep moving forward - Like falling off a bicycle, it's important to hop back on and get going again. Write a story, submit a guest post to a friend's blog, or research that topic and turn it into an article. Take a class or brush up on grammar skills. Experiment with another genre. Meet existing obligations. Just keep moving, learning, and polishing your skills. We don't lose until we quit.

Author Ann Gabhart said, "Rejection is not fatal." She's right. While it's an unpleasant part of life, we can use it as a catalyst, onward and upward to new and better things.

What helps you work through rejection?

Writing always,


Photo credit: Free Images


  1. Great tips. Rejection is just part of being a writer.

  2. These are great tips, Karen. And we get rejected not just in writing, but in life and work too. It's so important to recognize that this will happen in life, and we have to get through it.

  3. This is a great post, Karen. Now matter how thick skinned we think we are, we all need reminders like these every so often. I've done my share of wallowing lately. Sometimes we need to give in to that for just a bit before pulling ourselves back up. But you're right: we don't lose until we quit! Thanks for this post, Karen.

  4. Life does go on after a rejection. And we can't please everyone. Just not possible.

  5. Your tip to keep moving forward is one I follow. Rejection isn't personal, and it's one person's opinion.

  6. As someone who has to hand out rejections in my day job as a magazine editor, I'd also note that one should always be gracious. If you feel the need to respond to a rejection, thank the person for their time. Don't lash out. Even if the rejection is simply because of bad fit or bad timing that doesn't make sense to you, it does no good to burn bridges. Someday you might have a project that will be perfect for them.

  7. Thank you for the 'pep' talk. I have been gun-shy for too long.

  8. Hi Karen - Good advice all around. I have an agent, so the recent rejection came second hand. Nice to have a buffer! Of course, if it keeps happening...

  9. Isn't it amazing how we can receive 50 great reviews and yet one bad can send us into a tailspin? Thanks for reminding me just how vicarious our profession is.

  10. Hi Karen! I have been rejected and ignored by plenty of magazines. It's never a great feeling, but I do try to tell myself that I can do a better job of writing. Sometimes I don't do my homework well enough, and my article might not be a great fit for that publication too. The one thing I try to avoid is getting too down on myself.
    I'm not Shakespeare, I know that. But I have some value, and I'll just have to work harder to find where it's appreciated!
    Happy Valentines Day to you and yours,

  11. Yes to 1,2 & 3! Even though I've had many stories and poems rejected by magazines, it's always good to put it into perspective, count all of the amazing blessings, and move forward. If I'm brave, I just sent a short story or poem right back out there into the submission cycle on the same day. However, that doesn't always happen.
    Happy Valentine's Day, Karen!

  12. Always a good reminder. This one "...not suited to the market, readership, publication, reviewer, etc." is a big one to always keep in mind.

  13. I really had to work on this last year mentally and spiritually--getting routed in my identity in Christ so I am not the story I wrote, or the essay that I missed catching grammar errors. Instead, they are just things I do but still enough, always. I sure don't pretend to have it all together, and I think too, the more experiences I have with "God's redirection," the better I will be at it and the stronger in character!

  14. Over 5 years ago when I got my memoir published, and the reviews came in, there were of course some who didn't like it much, a few who hated it, and so forth. Can't always get the glowing ones. Everyone has his/her personal response to a book. A friend suggested I print out the favorable ones to help forget the mean- spirited and ugly ones. Looking back now with a tough skin, I think, Why not :)

  15. Lynda,
    Thanks a bunch! Yes, it sure is! :)

    Glad you liked them. :) Yes, this is true, isn't it? That's a good point.

    Thanks so much. Wallowing is not a good thing, but I've done it too. I guess it's part of the process of learning, right? We'll get where we need to be one of these days. :)

    It sure is! And so good to keep this in mind always. :)

    Yes, moving forward is always a good thing. You're right, it isn't personal! :)

    Good to hear about it from your experience's side too. Appreciate you bringing up that point. Being gracious, absolutely - excellent tip! You can't go wrong with that. :)

    You are most welcome! I get that way sometimes too. Cheering you on! :)

    Yes, an agent can be a great buffer, I imagine. But either way, we keep plodding on, right? :)

    I know right? We're building character here, aren't we? Live and learn! :) And I have much to learn. lol

    It's a journey all its own isn't it? And an adventure too! lol But we'll get to our destinations by being faithful, I'm thinking. :)

    I agree, it's all about perspective. The writing community is a big help to me in that respect. Hope you're feeling better! :)

    I need this reminder regularly. :) Yes, always good to keep in mind.

    Now there's another great point. Seems our writing is so interconnected with the rest of our life, isn't it? :) Always something good to learn, and opportunities to build Godly character.

    Yes, I agree, the non glowing ones are just as much a part of it too. I think your friend's idea is a good one! A great way to cheer you on to keep going. :)

    Happy writing,

  16. Hi Karen, rejection is very painful for a writer, but we need to and must move past it and work harder!

  17. Great advice!!! Yes, it's so easy to forget about our accomplishments when we're rejected...but as they say in sales, "Some will, some won't, so what?"

  18. Rachna,
    It can be a challenge, I agree! You are right. We need to push ahead! :)

    Thank you! I like that saying - something good to remember, for sure. :)

    Happy writing,


Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. Have a blessed day!