Lessons in Rejection

Rejection is hard, no matter who you are or what your career is like. (At SCBWI, Jane Yolen talked about how she still gets rejected.) It’s hard work, putting your writing out there and hearing that it’s not quite good enough. Writers usually have to develop thick skins, or else hide away all manuscripts in desk drawers. But Nancy at Out to Play has some great suggestions for coping with rejection. I especially like her Mike Wazowski approach!

A couple of other tips I’d add:

  • Editors/agents get a ton of submissions. Their email inboxes are constantly overflowing. As a result, they have to be super picky about the work they represent. Rejection doesn’t mean your work is necessarily bad. It just means that this editor/agent didn’t feel the right connection with it. When I was working on lit journals in college and grad school, most of the submissions we got were perfectly fine. But we only have the space to print a handful, and we had to make cuts somewhere. But that also means that if someone selects your work, they absolutely love it and will treat it with major enthusiasm.
  • It may seem like your fellow writers are never rejected, but that’s not true. For the most part, people don’t tend to talk about their failures like they do their successes. Remember that everyone gets rejected, and maybe broach the subject with some close writer friends.
  • It’s not rejection; it’s a learning tool. If you can figure out what went wrong, maybe you can make your story sharper and better than ever for the next time around. That way, it’s another step on the road to being an even more awesome writer.
  • When you do get good news, think about those former rejections and how they led you to where you are now. It’s all a process.

What are your tips for handling rejections?

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