Coping With Rejection

Having your work rejected is an uncomfortably large part of a writer’s life.   It is said that you have to have a thick skin to cope with it, that you should be able to brush it off.  This writer always finds it difficult, but, having had two rejections today, I’m getting a lot of practice at the moment.

Those of us who teach are frequently told by educationalists that ‘rejection’ is regarded as a terrible trauma, capable of scarring a young person for life, and yet we writers put ourselves through this over and over again.  Of course, I understand that writing is part of the real world and not college, but having a story or poem, in which you’ve invested time, skill, effort and emotional energy, rejected by an editor is distressing.   Just telling me to (wo)man up is not going to help me.

So what can I do?  Any suggestions?

I shouldn’t, of course, write an insulting email back to the rejecting editor, nor should I post on Facebook that she is a cow.  Telling my nearest and dearest how upset I am and why is not going to help me, as non-writers don’t generally understand how it all works and some N and D tend to increase one’s upset-ness by becoming overly-indignant on my behalf.  Having a general whinge to N and D about Something Else They Have Done is very tempting…   Drinking lots of vodka and eating too much chocolate will give temporary relief only.

On a serious note, some editors give reasons for rejecting and some will give detailed feedback, if you pay for it.  Writers with strong nerves who don’t win comps force themselves to read the winning entries.  Warning! This can cause acute heartburn!   Of course, eventually I will pick up the story again, weigh up all responses, look a few more markets, and sub again, but in the mean time I need a bit of a confidence boost.   This is how:


  • Make a cup of tea and drink it – see above.
  • Do something else.
  • Write something else
  • Read something.
  • Talk to someone about something else.
  • Stroke my cat.
  • Buy pot plants or flowers – see below.
  • Write my blog.

Any other ideas?



5 thoughts on “Coping With Rejection

  1. I don’t think you should dismiss chocolate so lightly – in my experience it makes every problem a tiny bit more bearable! 😉

    On a slightly more serious note, don’t forget to think about your successes too. Rejections fade into the past, whereas published work sticks around for a long time. I just read your story ‘Cut to the End’ and enjoyed it very much – a good mix of emotion and thoughtfulness with just a touch of humour to lift it…

    1. Thanks for your support, FictionFan. Glad you liked ‘Cut to the End’ and that you picked up on the emotion in the story. Upwards and onwards!


  2. This week I discovered that I’d been unsuccessful in two competitions I’d entered, which was quite a blow and left me feeling despondent. After a moan, a bit of a sulk (totally unproductive, but necessary), vodka and chocolate (essential), I got back in the saddle ready to create more, submit it and start the rejection process all over again. We must be gluttons for punishment!

    1. So we were both doubly rejected during the course of last week then. Both mine occurred on Wednesday and there’s only so much of it I can take within 24 hours. On Thursday, however, I wrote to one of the rejecting editors asking if she’d consider a rewrite and she said Yes.

      Mslexia this month has an article on rejection, by the way – “Survival of the Fittest” by Melissa Benn – although it is more to do with novels, publishers and agents. Further up the food chain than me, I’m afraid!


      1. A rewrite is certainly a positive step in the right direction. I’m just hoping the Universe will take pity on me and throw me a bone at some point, but I suppose there are thousand of writers thinking the same thing. Never mind! Plod on!

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