Every writer at every level knows that they need to be able to accept rejections. If you can’t handle getting a rejection, then you might as well give up writing now because a rejection letter are not only one of the most common parts of writing, but also one of the most important parts.
Yes, it’s okay to feel a little down when you get that letter, maybe even mumble a little curse under your breath, but after that there are two things you need to do:
- Get over it and move on
- Learn from it
Pick a recent rejection letter and think about why that story was rejected. First ask yourself the obvious question: Did you read and follow the submission guidelines of the publication you were submitting to? If not, well, there’s your lesson. Read the guidelines and do what they say next time.
Another thing to consider is if your story fits in the publication. I think my biggest lesson of 2012 was to be more selective with where I sent short stories. I did a better job picking out publications in 2013, for example, and nearly tripped my acceptances that year.
The best way to learn from a rejection is when you’re lucky enough to get a little feedback with it. One of my favorite rejection learning experiences came when an editor said that the main characters in one of my short stories were “distant and one-dimensional.” My initial thought was, “Well duh, that’s how I want them to be.” But then after putting a little more thought into it, I realized two things. First off, if that editor didn’t see that the characters in that story were supposed to be distant and one-dimensional, then my writing wasn’t strong enough to convey it. And second, it made me think about why I chose to write the characters that way in the first place and if it actually helped the story by writing them that way.
Another good example came when I first started sending out queries for Holy Fudgesicles. One agent gave me such good advice in her rejection letter that I realized I needed to temporarily halt the querying process and revise the novel, incorporating some of the suggestions.
So my moral here is that if you can get over the emotional baggage of a rejection and view it as a learning experience, it can become a great opportunity make you a better writer.
What have you learned from your rejection letters? Feel free to share!