When an editor says, “Your story is not for us” or a reader gives a book a one star review and indicates, “I hated these characters!”, a writer might feel physical pain at the rejection. Many writers have likened the rejection of their work to someone calling their child ugly. However, it may feel even worse than that in some cases. Some of our works carry bits and pieces of our very souls in them, feelings we experience deeply and are compelled to commit to documentation. When someone comes along and rejects it, it can feel as if we are personally rejected. Yet, this is not truly the case.
1. Take the rejection for exactly what it says and nothing more.
If an editor says a story isn’t for that particular publication, that’s all the rejection means. It’s tempting to wallow in the shadow of rejection and imagine all the worst thoughts possible about the story you poured your heart into and spent months working on. But there might not be anything wrong with the story. The only thing the editor said was it wasn’t right for that publication. It might be perfect for the next place you send it. Learn how to take rejections at face value. Don’t give any added opinion that isn’t stated.
2. Realize not everyone will like your work.
Even the best writers have readers who simply don’t care for everything they write. One of the best things about human nature is we all have different viewpoints and life experiences. No matter how much you like a story or book you’ve written, you should count on some people not liking it. These same people may even love the next one you put out. If they don’t, that’s really okay.
3. See if there’s something of value you can take from the rejection.
When a reader says he or she didn’t like your characters, this could be a point for consideration in improving your writing skills. Did you fully develop your characters so they didn’t seem like cardboard stereotypes and clichés? Were you rushing through their descriptions and scenes to focus more heavily on the plot points? Sometimes we can learn and become better writers through constructive criticism. Learning to evaluate your work honestly and recognize weak points can help you become a better writer.
4. Don’t let rejection take you out of the writing game.
After so many rejections, it can be easy to decide to simply never write again. If you can give up on your writing dream as a result of a few rejections, maybe the dream wasn’t your destiny. Instead, take a little time to deal with your feelings over the rejection and move on to the next project. It’s only natural to get down after someone rejects your work, but the only way to reject rejections is to not allow them to keep you down.
By Rhonda Jackson Joseph.
Rhonda has been writing about love, life, people—and the darkness within all these things— for a long time. The mother of four lives in Texas. A myriad of jobs – in banks, as a home party consultant, as a freelance writer on various topics and in many formats, and as a freelance editor – has prepared her well to share her expertise on stuff in general. Rhonda is on the steering committee for the National Black Book Festival, an annual event in Houston, Texas, that is in its sixth year and continues to grow larger and better each year. She is ecstatic that her day job is writing.