As a part of a new series, Breathe and Read is focusing on the life of a writer starting out. Today, we’re looking at how to deal with rejection as a writer.
If you were to ask me what I want to work as, you’d always get two answers: a radio presenter and a writer. And the one way they overlap?
I’ve been passed by for more opportunities than I’ve probably ever been picked for. Getting email after email saying “not this time” can make you feel like you’re wasting your time.
But you know what? It’s something we all have to deal with. Whether you’re submitting to agents, journals or publishers, you’re bound to get told ‘thanks but no thanks’ more than once – and that’s if you get a reply at all!
You can’t please everyone.
Let’s be real – even the most likeable people in the world have haters. You know that book you love? The one that makes you think “I wish I wrote that,” and inspired you to write?
Somebody in the world hates that book with equal passion. There’s likely even a person out there who picked it up, read a few chapters and felt it wasn’t worth finishing.
If your favourite writers’ work has haters, why wouldn’t yours? It’s something everyone has to deal with and there’s no way around it.
But that’s not to say it should get you down.
Being rejected is almost like a rite of passage. Because after what feels like endless rejections and constant hard work comes acceptance.
Someone will like you. Someone will read what you’ve created and think “this is what I’m looking for.” They’ll give you the ‘yes’ you’ve always dreamed about and they’ll champion your work.
All that failure, the late nights and stress, it’ll be worth the pain you went through.
But until then, remember that your favourite writer has had to deal with rejection. Even at whatever level of success they’re at now, they’re sure to go through the same thing. It’s all a part of the job.
Take a fresh look at your work.
I studied Film & Broadcasting in college, a course for the creative. If there was anything I learned from my studies, it’s this.
Take a complete step back from your work and come back to it in six weeks.
You know yourself, when you think about something too much, your head can fizzle out and you can’t think straight.
By taking a break for about two months, your mind can keep ticking away at it in the background, working on the story and assessing it from all different angles. Meanwhile, you can get on with your life and come back to it with new eyes and a fresh perspective.
The time off will give you a great chance to relax as well – exactly what you need when you’re dealing with the emotional stress of putting yourself out there!
Accept you may never know why.
The one thing about getting a ‘no’ is that you’ll likely never know why it happened. Whether you spent a lot of energy putting together an article pitch or it was months on your novel, rejections can feel personal. It feels like a rejection of everything you worked for, veering on soul-destroying.
But realistically, there are a ton of factors outside of your control. No matter how well you know the person you’re submitting to, you’ll never know exactly what they wanted or what was missing that could have turned that no into a yes.
The good news?
This means a ‘no’ isn’t always a reflection of your work.
It could be as simple as the person has just taken on a project too similar to your work. Maybe they loved it, but they’ve no room to give it the dedication it deserves.
Remind yourself of that the next time you get rejected.
A lot of hard work is needed to find success – but almost everyone needs a little bit of luck and good timing too.
You’ll have your luck, once you find it!