“My favorite rejection letter was from an agent who said, “We don’t have time to take on any new clients, and if we did, we wouldn’t want you.” But I kept trying. My second book got published. The first one never did.” Lisa Scottoline, author of legal thrillers.
The above quote comes from the book “The 101 Habits of Highly Successful Novelists,” edited by Andrew McAleer.
Rejection is a natural part of any creative pursuit. In business, we say, “Some will. Some won’t. So what.” I like to say, “Some will. Some won’t. Keep going!” Okay, so maybe the alliteration isn’t as good, but the message is better. “So what” gives the vibe that you don’t care. “Keep going” conveys determination. Much better.
Last year, I submitted a creative nonfiction piece to a contest and it didn’t win anything. It didn’t even make it to the finals. I know I had rushed the project, but I still felt it was a good piece of writing. After reading it again several months later, my rushing was evident. Instead of tossing the piece out, I rewrote it and entered it in another contest where it won first place. If I had let a little rejection get to me, I never would have realized the piece’s potential.
Potential. I love that word. It means capable of being or becoming. Use rejections to push you forward into your full potential.
To read more on how to turn rejection into success, read my post, How to use rejection to improve your craft.”
Rejection is how we writers grow thick skins, but we can also use it to better our craft. When I first started sending out my memoir, my husband suggested I send it to fifty or so agents right away. Since acceptance can be a numbers game, I understood his logic, but I felt it was better for me to start out slowly. And I’m glad I did. I received excellent, positive feedback early on that made me rethink my story and take my memoir in a new, more exciting direction. Now, I have a book I feel proud of as I begin to send it out again.
But what if you don’t receive helpful rejection letters? What if you get rejection after rejection and aren’t sure where you’ve gone wrong? Jessica Page Morrell, editor, author and writing teacher, has some good tips in her post, “25 Reasons Why Manuscripts are Rejected.”
You can also read my earlier post, “Six Guidelines for Turning Rejection into Success,” for tips on turning those rejections around.
And, if you want to really put rejection in perspective, try the rejection generator.
Do you have any rejection stories you’d like to share?
Some creative minds at Stoneslide Media have built an invention to liberate writers from the pain of being rejected. Inspired by psychological research showing that after people experience pain they’re less afraid of it in the future, the Rejection Generator helps writers be pre-rejected.
You simply choose a category of rejection, fill out your e-mail address, and you will immediately receive a rejection note. Stoneslide Media reports that each letter is ingeniously painful and discouraging. Read more
Rejection hurts. No matter who it’s coming from, or what part of your life it’s directed at, it hurts. As writers, we have to risk rejection if we want to see our work in print.
What’s the best way to handle rejection? Can we turn it into something positive?
When I began submitting my poetry to literary magazines, my mentor told me I’d need to develop a thick skin and to look at those rejection slips as stepping stones: with each rejection I received, I was one step closer to getting published. Though I accumulated a bonfire-size pile of rejections, I kept writing and kept submitting. When I received my first acceptance letter, I jumped up and down in a little victory dance. All that work paid off. My second acceptance letter came the following week. Read more