Last week, I suggested 7 Ways to Productively Pass the Time While Awaiting an Agent’s Response. Sooner or later, that agent—or editor, literary magazine, etc.—will send a response, and often times it will be a rejection.
What happens then?
Being a writer means facing rejection again and again. Unless you are one of a select few lucky people, you will send countless queries to agents before securing a deal, and then start the process of pitching your projects to publishing houses, which offers another opportunity for rejection. It’s a major part of a writer’s career, and it certainly stings every time it occurs.
Rejection always hurts, but you control how much you allow it to hurt you. There are ways to redirect rejection towards a more positive state-of-mind, and I suggest finding a way to do so if you plan to stay strong for the long haul.
After spending countless hours on a short story, or months to years on a manuscript, it’s only natural to feel disappointment each and every time the industry turns you down. Take a moment to acknowledge that disappointment, and then redirect it in a positive way. If you allow a rejection letter to discourage you, then you hold yourself back from your own dream.
Instead, find a way to turn it around.
A few days ago, one of my professors and her husband spoke to my class about their experiences making it through graduate school and searching for jobs in academia, another incredibly competitive field. Each time one of them received a rejection from a school they applied to, they would both light a giant sparkler, and then run back and forth across their front yard, yelling about why they didn’t want that job anyways.
This habit turned the sting of rejection into an opportunity to laugh and be silly, which almost made my professor look forward to the rejections as opposed to dread them. She and her husband redirected the negativity of rejection into a positive activity.
I strive to learn from this example, and I hope you will too. I encourage you to find a way to handle rejection in a positive manner. Pick an activity to do anytime you receive a rejection, whether it be as simple as watching a beloved TV show or as silly as running around with sparklers. Print your rejections and cut them out with patterned scissors to turn them into a collage. Make it a contest—how many rejections can you receive before you find success? It doesn't matter what it is as long as it turns the rejection into a reason to smile.
Most importantly, don’t give up. If you really want it, keep trying and keep pitching until it works out. For blunt and humorous advice about making it through the tedious process of seeking representation, take a look at Chuck Sambuchino’s article “Don’t Give Up Until You’ve Queried 80 Agents or More” on Writer’s Digest. I had a good laugh, and I’m sure you will too.
What are your thoughts? If you have advice for redirecting rejection, be sure to share.
I write YA fantasy and contemporary fiction. This blog is dedicated to thoughts and advice on writing and publishing, as well as various interests related to the world of Young Adult.