How to Survive Rejection Slips

by G. Connor Salter

Getting rejection slips is always difficult. It doesn’t even seem to matter how big your project is, even getting a 500-word article rejected can hurt.

However, all writers deal with rejection sometime in their careers – some would argue it’s a kind of initiation.

Here are three reminders to help you survive rejection and keep going as a writer:

1. It Doesn’t Mean You Can’t Write

It’s tempting to assume the reason your work got rejected is because it’s terrible, that you aren’t a good writer and never will be.

The truth is far from that.

Sure, there are times where your work needs refining – in which case, simply see rejection as an opportunity to look it over again. Find a friend who will view your work objectively and have them edit it, then submit again.

In many cases, writing gets rejected for other reasons. Your writing may not fit a publisher’s schedule or an editor’s personal taste. You may have simply gotten the formatting wrong.

If you make mistakes, learn from them, fix your mistakes, and keep submitting.

Bestselling novelist James Lee Burke (whose first novel was rejected 111 times, then published and nominated for a Pulitzer Prize) gave this advice in a Writer’s Digest interview: “Never let a manuscript stay at home longer than 36 hours. It’s that simple.”

2. The Important Thing Is You’re Actively Writing

There’s a famous saying (according to author Karen Woodward, no one’s quite sure who said it first) that you don’t find your writing voice until you’ve written half a million or a million words.

Let’s say the smaller number is correct; you have to write half a million words before you really find your writing voice.

As author Simon Morden noted, that means you’ll write the equivalent of five novels before you’re ready for the big time.

Therefore, anything you write and finish is progress.

You may write a 500-word article or a 40,000-word manuscript – either way you’re moving closer to that half-a-million-word goal.

You’re also miles ahead of many people who talk about writing but never actually do it.

3. You’ve Been Through Worse Times

At some point – maybe years ago, maybe months ago — you weren’t a committed writer. You were just someone who enjoyed reading and had a dream of writing someday.

If you’re like most writers, you had a hard time learning to write – training yourself to write every day, learning how copyright works and the proper formats, things like that.

You also discovered writing is one of the most stressful jobs in the world, with the possible exception of drug smuggling.

But you beat those obstacles. You worked hard, you fought hard, and you became a competent writer.

Think about those obstacles you overcame – the self-discipline, the moment you realized you had succeeded, your finest moments so far.

If you could overcome those obstacles, you have the capacity to overcome your current rejection problems.

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