“I could wallpaper an entire room with rejection letters,” my writing instructor said.
I wished he was kidding, but I knew it was true. There have been many times when I received an email I didn’t want to open. The subject line said it all.
In other words, thank you but no thank you. Thank you, but your piece doesn’t fit our needs at this time. If we get enough of those emails, we may decide writing is not our thing. It’s too hard, or perhaps we heard God wrong when we felt him calling us to do it.
After writing off and on in different genres for the past eight years, I’ve learned rejection will come. There is no question about it. But we can learn from it. It can make us grow instead of making us bitter, and we can become better writers because of it.
We have to see it as a stepping tool rather than a smack in the face. Even though it does feel like a smack in the face.
Here are 3 things you can do after a rejection:
- Ask yourself, “Is this the right market?” There are a lot of publications out there. It can be overwhelming, and it may take a while to find the right one for the piece you’re writing. But if you submit your place to a magazine, e-zine, etc. where it doesn’t fit, the only result will be frustration. Take time to read the publication’s back pieces and see if your manuscript will compliment what they write. If it doesn’t, keep looking.
- See if there are any opportunities outlined in your rejection email or letter. Sometimes you’ll receive an email saying the piece doesn’t fit their needs. So what are their needs? Does the publication have a list of themes they stick to each quarter? If so, you may be able to save your manuscript to submit later. Make sure you look at all the guidelines and needs of the publication before you submit. Doing so will not only save the editor time, but you as well.
- Take time to explore your niche. It can take years to find your niche and your voice as a writer. Don’t try to rush the process. Ask yourself, “Who am I writing to? What is her story? What are her struggles, her dreams and her beliefs?” Asking yourself these questions will not only make you a better writer, but target your audience. Because trying to write for everyone will essentially mean writing for no one.
Whatever you do, don’t give up! Remember, some of the best writers faced rejection many times before they saw success. Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, Max Lucado and Lysa TerKeurst (just to name a few) all forged their way through letters saying “no” before they saw their first “yes.”
Time spent honing your craft and learning is never wasted. Writers write their way through doubt. So pick up the pen, pull out the laptop and keep going.