Rejection as a writer is never fun, even if you’re used to it. No, especially if you’re used to it. Because then it just becomes the norm. It never gets easier, and even if you see your writing progress and you gradually grow your writing portfolio, several rejections at once bring the old feelings back. Are you heading in the right direction? What mistakes are you still making with your writing and how you submit?
This happened to me a couple weeks ago. I was working on several pieces, submitting left and right, and within a week I had about four rejections. Two of which were two days in a row. The old doubts started coming back. I know I have to get used to rejection, but with so many “no’s” coming so fast, what could I do to change? I thought of the following ideas. Here’s what you should do after receiving multiple rejections.
Remember the Positives
First, remember that it’s not the end of the world. You have to get back up after you’ve been put down, even if a lot has happened at once. If you know what it’s like to receive one rejection, getting “no” several times is probably ten times worse, in my opinion. However, we all need to look at the bright side. I don’t say that to hide the problem. Think of everything you experience as a writer as a learning experience. What did you learn from your rejection? For me, I learned to be patient and not focus on the benefits of acceptance only. I needed to remember to use the opportunity to grow.
Also, remember this won’t be your only project. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket! Make your revisions to the piece rejected, but take the time to work on another story for another journal. This refreshes your mind because not only do you escape the rejection blues for the one project, but also you don’t slow down on your writing progress. You keep moving forward with getting “stuck” on rejection.
Lastly, remember that these rejections don’t mean you’re not a writer. Writers constantly learn more about writing no matter what. No one can really “master” writing. One rejection (or several) doesn’t define your entire writing career.
“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master” – Ernest Hemingway
Learn from Feedback
Some journals (not all) give feedback on why the piece wasn’t a good fit for the journal. A couple of journals offered their time to explain what they liked and what they thought didn’t work. Which helped me a lot! Honestly, it’s difficult to be critiqued for some writers (myself included), but good feedback always helps me out in the long run. Assess what you need to fix, where to improve, and even what to do when or if you resubmit to the same journal. The feedback is there for a reason. If a small (or big) journal takes the time to send a personalized rejection with details on how to improve, take it. They put in effort to help you. Now you need to put in the effort to help yourself.
Also, keep studying what makes good writing in general. Plenty of writing outlets and journals offer resources for that! Here are a few:
6 Elements of Good Fiction Writing
How to Write Good Fiction: 4 Foundational Skills and How to Build Them
What Makes A Good Story? 10 Elements
Sometimes the only thing you can do is turn around and submit someplace else. After all, you should keep submitting anyway, whether you hear a rejection or acceptance from a journal. Take the feedback you’ve received and use it to fuel the next draft of your piece. Rework the piece and submit it to a journal that might be a good fit and you feel confident in submitting to. Or take another piece you’ve written and resubmit it to the same journal later that could be a better fit. Either way, you can use the rejection to generate new story ideas, take advantage of more outlets, and keep moving forward.
For me, it wasn’t all bad. I did receive one acceptance out of all those rejections. But receiving all these rejections at once taught me something valuable. It taught me that I needed to be patient, for one, and that I’m heading in the right direction as long as I learn from the feedback given to me and I try to improve. The same thing goes for any writer. Take a look at your feedback, look at the positives, and, most importantly, keep writing!
I’ve updated my writing profile! You can find-
My website here: emsherwoodfoster.com
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My serial publication The North Wind at Coffee House Writers! Part 1 is here.