Dealing with Rejection

Dealing with rejection is an unavoidable part of…most of life, really. Writing is no exception. The demand for books and short stories is less than the supply, so you can do the math. This is a big part of why it took me fifteen years to rediscover my childhood love of writing. Here are some strategies I’ve developed to help me cope.

1. Realize it’s normal. Seriously. Pick your favorite author. Research them. They probably have a harrowing story of rejection. J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter? Rejected 12 times. Stephanie Meyer and Twilight? Rejected 14 times.

2. Make it a game. In 2019, I’ve decided I “win” if I collect 50 rejections. I even have a pretty spreadsheet to help me keep track. And yes, I did add dog emoticons to the title to make me feel better about it because DOG!

Here’s a screenshot of my list of rejections. Image description: spreadsheet showing the titles of stories, market to which they were submitted, and date rejected.

3. Read some inspirational quotes. From Meg Cabot’s website: “You are not a hundred dollar bill. Not everyone is going to like you … or your story. Do not take rejection personally.”
Or, from Mur Lafferty’s I Should Be Writing Podcast: “If you get a rejection that means you’re a working writer because working … people who don’t get rejections are usually people who are not trying.”

4. Maintain a healthy work/life balance. Even if writing is “for fun” and not your main source of income, it is work. Don’t write to the exclusion of spending time with your friends and family and taking care of your health.

5. Drink lots of water, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, and exercise. Heck, it’s the answer for everything else, so why not try it here?

6. Get different pens. There’s very little a good pen can’t solve. Even if you always write digitally.

Image description: Four pens on the dashboard of a car.

7. Sacrifice a chicken to appease the Rejection Gods. Wait. Hold on. The chicken didn’t do anything to deserve that, and chicken blood stains like you wouldn’t believe. Consider a carpet-friendly alternative such as sacrificing a Peep.

Joking aside, rejection isn’t fun. The good news is a rejection doesn’t indicate how much I’ve learned creating the story. Rejection is a necessary part of working toward the eventual goal– acceptance. It’s a cost I’m willing to pay.

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