How to Face Rejection as a Writer

Like any creative, you will hear a multitude of advice on how to face rejection as a writer. No two pieces of advice are going to work the same for any one person; each person will have to find what helps soothe or motivate them after a rejection of a draft submission, no answer or ghosting from an agent, or the negative reviews that readers can leave online which may feel like a rejection of the writer’s ability. (Oof.) 

No matter what type of writer you are, you face rejection. And here’s some tips to help you face it head-on when it occurs.

Tips on How to Face Rejection as a Writer

Remember that you are not your art. Your art is not you.

There are a thousand stories out there about rejection. Thousands. Millions. Of people who know exactly what it’s like to be told they’re not good enough in some capacity. Sure, it’s one thing to be told we’re being rejected for a job or a relationship, but when your art is rejected — something so pivotal that some people identify themselves wholeheartedly with it — that might be a whole other sub-variety of rejection unto itself.

Learn not to identify with your art.

All artists must learn to detach from their creative work. To learn how to face rejection as a writer, it’s crucial to understand that you are not your art, and your art is not you. Art is subjective, an expression of yourself but not all-encompassing and totally defining. Rejection by one group (or one agent!) is just one step in the process of allowing your art to express all aspects of yourself in an authentic, genuine, honest, and valuable way.

Understand the value of rejection & testing your mettle

If you are never rejected, how do you know your true worth? Like a child whose parents always say yes — Veruca Salt comes to mind — you will never know the depth of your own disappointment or have the chance to test your resilience if not rejected. If you are accepted everywhere, are you ever truly welcome? And have you done good by humanity and by your own potential, if no one has ever really turned you down?

Writing often requires persistence and tenacity. The ability to keep submitting work despite repeated rejections is a hallmark of successful writers. Many famous authors faced numerous rejections before achieving success. Learning how to face rejection, how to persevere through, is essential for any writer looking to make a lasting impact. Rejection provides an opportunity to test what you’re made of, find out more about yourself. 

Release your creation

Roland Barthes and his essay “Death of the Author” is something that perhaps only lit majors spend a lot of time with, which is a shame for everyone else. At its core, the central idea is that you, as an artist, must cut loose your art from yourself; it must stand on its own in the world. You cannot follow it around and explain away its shortcomings. You cannot fight its battles against critics. Once you release it, you can’t constantly explain or defend it; it must fend for itself. 

Rejection of your art, your perspective, your creative expression is an opportunity for growth, perspective, and self-evaluation.

Become responsive to rejection

Rejections can lead you to explore new avenues and take creative risks. If one type of writing consistently faces rejection, an adaptable, flexible, and creative writer may be encouraged to try different genres or styles, expanding their horizons and ultimately becoming more versatile and well-rounded in their craft. Respond to the situations you’re in; adapt and overcome as necessary. One (very successful) way how to face rejection as a writer is to write to your strengths; it just might take some trial-and-error to figure out what they are.

Accept misunderstanding

Understand and realize that being misunderstood is inherent in the creative process. Some people won’t “get it,” and their rejection can help you become a better artist. That’s normal and expected. 

As a writer, if you want the reader to understand what you mean, it’s your job to be clear in how you express yourself. (Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to be straightforward, do things the same way as others, or cut short your poetic expression, but if you want someone to get it, it’s your job to give it to them.) However, not all art is for everyone, and as the great Bob Marley said, you can’t please all the people all the time.

But rejection offers you the opportunity to develop your character and emotional maturity, the opportunity to evaluate an aspect of your art that perhaps you did not evaluate before. It encourages humility, patience, and the ability to accept that not everyone will appreciate or connect with your work. These qualities can be valuable not only in writing but in life as well.

See if the rejection can help you shape into a better writer. Then, take what is useful and disregard what is not. Wish the rejector well and keep moving. Not all things are right for all people all the time. You can’t, and won’t, please everyone.

Seek social support

Learning how to face rejection as a writer can also involve seeking support and feedback from peers, writing groups, or mentors. Sharing experiences and receiving constructive criticism from fellow writers can be immensely beneficial.

A Growth Mindset Is the Top Method for How to Face Rejection

Overall, let’s underscore and re-emphasize the idea that rejection is a fundamental part of your growth and self-discovery. Learning how to face rejection is essential in a writer’s journey. Rejection fosters growth, resilience, and the ability to navigate the subjective world of literature, not to mention content creation and all creative expression. Learning to prepare for, anticipate, and not be deeply wounded by rejection will enable you to persevere and ultimately succeed in your craft.

Rejection is hard. Let an editor help you prepare.

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