Learning How to Deal with Rejection

You’re Not Alone

by Deborah Owen

Creative writers have a hard time dealing with criticism – constructive or otherwise. After all, our written words are our babies, and how dare anyone criticize or edit them! Right? Wrong. That is a beginner’s belief (and, of course, you may be a beginner). When you can ask for, receive, and apply constructive feedback, you have made the first huge leap to successful writing.

One of the best ways to do this is to join a writing club. There are dozens of them, but two of the best are writing.com (larger) and mywritersgroup.com (smaller). You can publish your stories on the site and let other writers read and rate them. Then it’s your turn to visit their port, read, and rate their articles.

Will anyone hurt your feelings? Probably. But what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger. And if anyone gets downright nasty with you, report him or her to the site’s headmaster. Rude critiques are never welcome on either of these sites, but once in a while it happens.

For example, many years ago I had one story that consistently drew a five star rating, but one day a woman rated it one star and wrote this message: “If you really want to be a good writer, you need to read good authors so you’ll know what good writing is. I rated your story one star only because I couldn’t rate it one-half star, but I admit I only read the first paragraph.”

I felt like a wooly worm, squished by a dump truck full of manure. I didn’t know I should have turned her in, so I licked my wounds and stayed quiet, but a supervisor happened by my site and saw the message. She told the headmaster, who wrote to the woman and banned her from ever reviewing anyone again. As for me, the damage was done. I didn’t accept another critique for a year, but I learned two things.

1 – Pay no attention to rude people with swollen heads.

2 – Write snappy first paragraphs!

A year later I received another critique which read, “I hope you’ll receive this critique in the spirit in which it is given as I only want to help you.” My defenses dropped like a rock. The point is – criticism can seriously wound a new writer – and genuine help can heal a wounded writer. To this day, I accept 95% of all critiques. At first I did it as an experiment, but when my ratings soared, I did it because I knew I was learning.

Dealing with rejection is a part of every writer’s life. Learn who to share your work with. Don’t let family members or friends (who are not published writers) read your work. They don’t know what they’re talking about and they’ll run over you rough shod. It’s much easier to learn from strangers.

When you try to sell your work, you’ll receive rejection slips. Keep them. I know one woman who made a collage out of hers and saved the middle space on her wall for her first acceptance slip.

Rejection is a continual learning process. Ultimately, you will either grow a thick hide or get out of the writing business.

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15 thoughts on “Learning How to Deal with Rejection

  1. Hi Deb,
    The subject of “Rejection” also happens in speaking.
    I have learned this through experience.as well as writing.
    So, do your homework and research before a “Presentation”/
    Thanks for listening,


  2. HI Deb,
    On the subject of “Rejection”. when ” I” do get accepted .
    As an editor I guess you need to edit every article which you receive.?
    for we never word the same article twice unless we cut & paste it in.
    I’m just looking deeper into rejection, here , does an editor get so used to the same type
    of article that he /she o k s it , maybe I should reread your article.
    Simply because we are told we can edit/change some words and reuse
    or submit to another place. as you know, I am so new to this queries/
    submitting my stories, but I want to begin submitting maybe to a magazine
    Thank you for listening,


    1. Hi Sonny. I’m sorry. I didn’t see this earlier or I would have answered. Editing gets in a person’s blood when they do it all the time. You’re right. I have to edit everything I read. I drive myself crazy sometimes, and you’re right again when you suppose that an editor looks for things to be written “in a certain way.” Every editor at every magazine knows what they’re looking for. If what we have doesn’t fill the bill, they won’t buy it. Simple as that. For the first year or two, you should submit to online ezines (magazines that are online) or to local newspapers. Your chances will be much better. It’s a very competitive market. Expect lots of rejection slips. That’s part of this job! Deb


      1. Hi Deb,
        Thanks for replying, we (all writers, are blessed that you have
        The “writing tip” page )
        And we can ask questions and you answer,
        I want to learn more about editing,
        So, does this mean I can send a query and submit stories/articles anytime?
        Blessings .


        1. You have to follow the writer’s guidelines. Go to the ezine’s website and read “guidelines.” They will tell you what kind of story/article they want. I would suggest that you finish one course before you try this step. Talk to your tutor about it. Best, Deb


      2. Hi Deb, Sorry for so many emails and questions But I get busy working and forget that I have a Tutor waiting for me. I’ll get back on course now, thank you for the tip, Now , I am tired tonight. if I can sleep I’m sorry I bug you so much , please forgive. I am just so in the habit of asking you all things. Blessings Sonny


  3. Oh, but ms.Deb,
    This is some great writing for all of us newbies, You seem to know just what to write.
    Exactly what we need when we need it .great info . and another one I read today.
    says to finish what you started so you can ship it to where it belongs (your story)


  4. Ha ha,L,O L, Hi Deb,
    Maybe that is why I never sent any writing in or query letter,
    Afraid of Rejection?
    Could be, Now that will need to change because i ‘m working on my course,
    And it has been terrific learning.
    So I may get one or two, but there is a lesson here .
    Do we see the answers yet ? write….write…write… enjoy the freedom !
    Bless you dear Lady!


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