It probably should be part of the job description. “Writers wanted: experience in failing required.”
As a career writer, failure and rejection will happen. It’s inevitable in a competitive industry filled with lots of really talented people.
The key is understanding how to turn that rejection into motivation and a learning experience. So, here are some tips for learning how to “fail better,” as Samuel Beckett said.
1. Don’t take it personally.
Many times, your writing won’t be rejected because of its quality, but rather for other reasons such as you didn’t match the publisher’s submission guidelines or they don’t have the space to acquire anymore novels right now or the editor reading it was having a bad day (yes, editors are humans too).
It is important to remember that a rejection letter isn’t necessarily a reflection of your writing abilities. If you take every rejection like a personal knife to the gut, then you will be left with no confidence to continue writing and submitting.
Take every rejection with a grain of salt, and remember that the people rejecting your work aren’t rejecting you.
2. Learn from your failure
This may seem like an obvious tip but learning from your mistakes is the best way to improve.
It might seem tempting to get so swept up in your despair after getting rejected that you can’t possibly take anything away from it, but in every rejection, there is a takeaway.
Even if what you learn is just that rejection sucks, you still learned that valuable lesson.
3. Let failure feed your fire
There is nothing like a good rejection to motivate you to succeed.
I mean, sure, there is the option to just give up upon receiving your first rejection. But did you really go through the all the effort of pouring your heart out on a page just to give up because one person said no?
Instead of taking rejection as a personal attack, take it as a personal challenge. Make a goal such as getting accepted twice as many times as you get rejected. Then keep submitting your work until this happens.
4. You aren’t alone in your failure
Some of the greatest writers we know – J.K. Rowling, Kathryn Stockett, George Orwell, F. Scott Fitzgerald – all were rejected at some point.
You might find yourself beginning to compare your failures to other people’s successes, and if you do this, you will always come up short.
But everyone fails. It is a part of the job. You aren’t alone in your failure. The difference now is that you know how to fail better.
5. Remember you love writing
Finally, perhaps the most important thing to remember about failing better – remember why you love to write. Keep that feeling of finishing a piece or getting published at the forefront of your mind.
When you face rejection, remember the reasons that you write. Remember that you have the ability to succeed and can do so by pushing through failure.
Rejection isn’t the end of the world; it is just the beginning.
So go on. Fail better! I dare you.