A Writer’s Guide To Handling Rejection

So you finally finished writing something.  Maybe it was a poem, maybe it was an entire novel – no matter what, it’s your darling beautiful perfect literary baby, and you’ve shipped it out to all the publications, agents, and such.  Now all you need to do is relax and check the mailbox incessantly for your letters of praise and advance payments to fly in.

Unless, of course, you’re getting rejected.

No, you claim, not you!  Your work is one of genius, such as hasn’t been seen since the last great work in its genre.  It’ll totally get published!


Probably not.

Go pour yourself a glass of something strong, my friend, because today we’re going to deal with rejection.

1. Pretend it’s bad news when you get the envelope/email. That way you’re prepared for disappointment, but if it does actually turn out to be good news (which it won’t), you’ll be extra happy.

2. Read the entire letter. You never know, there could be a tidbit of advice to keep from getting rejected in the future. Treasure that tidbit. Consider framing the rejection letter, so you’ll always see that one tidbit and have hope.

3. Complain to someone.  Be sure to pick someone who will reassure you that your writing is brilliant and someday that publisher will regret rejecting you.  Complain extra if the letter is just a form letter – seriously, you worked hard on that piece, couldn’t they have at least had the decency to write a personalized rejection letter?

4. Save the letter.  Even if it was just a lazy form letter, hey, it’s proof that you tried.  Then, when you need extra encouragement, you can rifle through your slowly expanding file of rejections and be encouraged to write more.  Or drink.

5. Alternatively, destroy the letter.  Let your creativity shine.  Burn it in a beach bonfire.  Shred it, then fish out the pieces and shred them again.  Take the miniscule shreds and burn them in a beach bonfire.  Shred the ashes, just in case.  Especially if it was a form letter.  This is also a good time to drink.

6. Revisit your piece. This is best done late at night, alone, after consuming several drinks because you still feel terrible about getting rejected because you didn’t complain enough about getting rejected to get the terrible feelings out of your system.  Turn all the lights off so you and your bottle of wine are lit solely by the unforgiving blue glow of your computer screen.  Scan your piece once, then re-read it with excruciating thoroughness.  I’m talking word-by-word here.  Obviously something was not perfect about this piece, and it could have been that one “the.”  Rewrite several phrases.  Add a completely new and somewhat irrelevant plot twist.  Save the reinvigorated piece, which is now a product of pure genius – but save it as “piece_2” because the original is still pretty good.


3 thoughts on “A Writer’s Guide To Handling Rejection

  1. This is fabulous.I just hit publish on a new style of review and am nervous about it – I think I’ll go have a drink while waiting for a response (of any sort, even just crickets…)

  2. I just posted about writerly rejection (but in a less constructive way). GMTA! The worst is getting NO response at all, which has been my only experience so far. A little constructive criticism helps even if it hurts.

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