Rejection is more dynamic than simply receiving an email from an editor telling you ‘Your work is not a good fit for us at this time’. Rejection is also often self-inflicted. If you are used to receiving flash floods of comments and likes on your writing, suddenly receiving a reduced number can be equally demoralizing and even lead to writer’s block. My first thoughts after a rejection, self-inflicted or not, usually leave me dejected and demoralized. Why write if no one wants or likes my writing?
I went through a brief bout of disappointment and self-inflicted rejection when I wrote Lioness. I was convinced the haiku would connect with most of the people who interact with me. When it did not immediately invite connection, failure was the first thought that sprang to mind. However, over the next week, I saw it proved that it takes time for some writing to find the right eyes.
I would not be a writer if I shied away from every rocky road in my path. I am a writer because I write. This does not mean rejection is painless; it still stings. For me, the sting is not an invitation to develop a fear of bees; it is a calling to befriend the hive.
While I will be using my experience submitting poetry, prose, and short stories to literary outlets, I am hopeful this advice will apply as well to bloggers exploring guest posting opportunities and even freelancers querying their creative ideas.
As a creative who has been (and still is) rejected at many intersections along the road of my writing journey, here I share what I do to move on and how I ultimately learn from rejection.
- Accept it. First off, accept the way you feel. It is natural to feel let down, irritated, frustrated, or even angry after a rejection, especially if you put a lot of energy and passion into trying to nail the submission. Feel what you feel and let your emotions run their course. You do not want to re-enter the submitting world with pent-up feelings.
- Study. Return to the journal or magazine that rejected your work. Look again at their submission guidelines and read some of the journal’s previous publications. Now go back and read your submission. Perhaps you can identify why it was rejected by looking at your writing in context and with honest eyes.
- Try, try again. Write a new piece of poetry or recycle/upcycle an existing piece of writing and submit again to the same publication, using what you have learned from your rejection study to rectify any mistakes you made the last time.
- Pro Tip: Wait at least a few weeks before resubmitting, unless you are responding to a prompt or submission call with a closing deadline. If you are responding to a call for submissions for the second time, also make sure the guidelines allow multiple submissions from the same author. Allowing time to elapse before resubmitting gives editors the chance to view your work more impartially as opposed to having your previously rejected writing immediately come to their mind.
- Move on. Find the right home for your writing by moving onward in search of new poetic journals or consider submitting your rejected poem to a journal you have work published with, if you think the publication is a good home for your piece. You cannot nail the judgement of where your poem best belongs every time so
- Take risks. You have little to nothing to lose if you submit to a place you deem unapproachable, or if you go out on a limb and share a weird piece of writing, so do it! You may hit upon something you, and others, love.
- Love it. Yes, love what you do. The love you have for your writing and the passion you put into every word will always be there for you. Your love of writing is what will keep you coming back, no matter how many rejections or lack of likes you receive in the circles of your literary community. It is not about the numbers; it is about your creative expression and staying true to your voice.
Rejection and writer’s block are all part of the writing process. Learn to respect a ‘no’ as much as you welcome a ‘yes’. After all, it is not possible to fit into every writing community. Find the places where you belong and thrive.
What are your top tips for handling rejection in the writing world? Tell me below!
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