Five Ways To Handle Rejection (And Five Things Not To Do)

Howdy, howdy! The first week of July kind of disappeared into thin air. I have no idea where it went, but that’s been this whole year for me. Anyway, as many of you know, I’ve started another agent search. What does that mean? It means my next few months will be filled with even more rejection than usual. Depressing, right? But that’s the way it is when it you’re trying to make a career out of writing. I realize I’ve posted about rejection before, but it’s been a while and I’ve learned a lot since then, including things I wish I didn’t know (looking at you don’t #1). So, I thought I would update my rejection advice with five ways to handle it and five things not to do.

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Do #1: Print out your rejections and burn them or rip them up or reupholster your office chair with them. Whatever makes you feel better. I just save them and when I get an acceptance, I scroll through and stick my tongue out at every rejection for that particular story. It’s childish, but it works for me.

Don’t #1: For the love of whatever you worship, do NOT write someone back and cuss them out or demand an explanation. Just take the no and move on. I never even thought that would be a thing until I started slushing. I’ve been lucky. The only emails I’ve received were thank yous for taking the time to comment and one polite request for suggestions of other places to submit. But I know people who have gotten really rude and occasionally threatening responses. Don’t do that.

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Do #2: Acknowledge that writing is extremely subjective. Not everyone is going to like what you submit. That’s not your fault. The story just might not have been a good fit like the rejection says.

Don’t #2: Don’t take form rejections to heart. They usually just mean your story wasn’t a good fit for that person or venue. It’s not a comment on your writing ability.

Do #3: Be proud of a personal rejection. I know you’re thinking “but it’s still a rejection!” Yeah, but it means either the story or writing caught the person’s attention enough that they want to help you improve on it.

Don’t #3: Unless specifically stated, a personal rejection is not an invitation to revise and resubmit. Don’t make the mistake of thinking it is. If there’s nothing in the letter about it, check their guidelines.

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Do #4: Take a break. Rejections can get depressing. It’s okay to take a break from writing and/or submitting when you start to feel burned out. We all need to take care of ourselves.

Don’t #4: Making the decision to stop writing isn’t something you should do rashly. If you’re overwhelmed by the rejection, take some time away. Don’t immediately declare that you’re never going to write again. Cool off and weigh the pros and cons rationally.

Do #5: Get a second creative outlet. Preferably something new, so you aren’t as critical of yourself when you’re doing it. Something for fun, not work.

Don’t #5: Try not to forget that writing is work. Sure, you’re passionate about it, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t draining.

That’s my advice this week. I’m sure I won’t listen to myself about much of this. Who takes their own advice? But take from it what you will. What is some advice you have for dealing with rejection? As always, feel free to share your comments here or on my social media pages!

2 thoughts on “Five Ways To Handle Rejection (And Five Things Not To Do)

    1. Thank you for reading my list! I slush on and off for Pseudopod (a horror podcast). It’s a little different from normal slushing because you also have to consider how the story would convert to audio. But it’s fun and everyone in the company is super supportive. I’ve been lucky to work with such awesome people and not having to deal with people who lash out over rejections. I’ll definitely keep this topic in mind for a future post.

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