Are You Ready to Admit the Real Reason You Keep Getting Rejected?

No one likes to admit this. But you might have to.

“We’re looking for someone with more experience.”

“We were hoping to review a few more samples showcasing your past publishing credits.”


All these rejections are hard to swallow. No one likes to be reminded how inexperienced they are compared to everyone else they’re trying to compete with. Or that they haven’t diversified the relevant experience they do have enough.

And NO ONE likes the infamous “silent nope.”

Whether you’re applying for a writing job, pitching yourself as a freelancer to potential clients, or begging bloggers to let you guest post — or whatever goal it is you’re trying to write your way toward — it’s tough to give it your all, only to fall face-first into your keyboard and accidentally type a bunch of zzzzzs.

But maybe, just maybe, there’s something you’re missing.

Or, something you haven’t been wiling to admit to yourself. Until now.

Maybe the problem isn’t that you’re not trying hard enough or that you lack the work ethic or overall potential to do what you’ve always dreamed of doing.

Maybe you’re just looking at the wrong spot on your professional, or personal, timeline.

Maybe you think you’re ready to query an agent or apply for a staff writing job or enter a writing contest when you realistically aren’t.

Maybe you’re just not good enough.

Not yet, anyway.

On the surface, that doesn’t feel very good. And if I (presumably a stranger) were to look you in the eye right now and say this to your face, at first, you’d probably be pretty mad at me. I’D be mad at me.

Except … maybe I’m not wrong. Maybe you’ve known this all along, but wanted to do what you had every right to do — take a chance, just to see what could happen.

You knew there was a good chance you’d fail. But failure stings just as much as having to admit, finally, that you jumped in too soon. You weren’t ready.

But, if you keep working, you know you will be.

And you already know what it’s going to take to reach whatever your or your chosen path’s definition of “enough” might happen to be. Not working harder, but more — and for longer. Grinding, as they say. Writing and writing until you’re certain you couldn’t possibly compose another word.

If you think you’ve been writing too long to get these kinds of rejections, it’s very possible you’re wrong. At least at the scale or level you’re trying to break into.

It’s OK to take chances, to try things, to figure out which direction you want to take your writing career (if any). But keep in mind that a rejection — especially one targeted specifically toward your level of experience, or lack thereof — does not mean you can never achieve what you’re trying to achieve.

It just means it’s not your time yet.

And whether that means you’re not at the skill or experience level required of you yet or the universe just doesn’t want you in a certain position at the moment, you can’t spend too much time beating yourself up. Calling yourself names. Bathing in your self-doubt, instead of just letting it drip off of you as you shake off your shame and return to writing.

You are not useless, or stupid, or “a bad writer.” You are not a failure or a lost cause.

You are simply moving along the progression of your writing life slower than you’d like. That’s what happens when we’re raised to expect instant gratification whenever we do any kind of work. We expect results before we necessarily deserve them.

Remember that these things take time. Sometimes years. Sometimes decades.

As long as you keep writing to the best of your ability, as long as you keep your focus and continue doing it for the right reasons, have faith. You will end up where you’re supposed to be in this world filled with people who like to write words. Eventually, you’ll get there.

It’ll be worth it. All you can do is trust that’s the truth, and let it carry you forward.

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.

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5 thoughts on “Are You Ready to Admit the Real Reason You Keep Getting Rejected?

  1. Write all the things, ignore the hate and learn from the rejections (especially the reasons for the rejection if you manage to get those). Do all the things as much as you can as many times as you can. The Law of Averages demands that you eventually get something.

    Uh. That’s my view anyway. It was the best way I found to deal with the self-pity and danger of a self-inflicted spiral.

    Good? Bad? Ugly?

    1. SAME. You just eventually learn to take the wins and the losses and keep going. No, it’s not always fun/easy/comfortable but if it were, we’d all be able to do it and there’d be less motivation to keep doing it!

  2. It’s often a tricky combination of contradictions. On the one hand you have to work hard, and keep working at it, but you can’t focus too heavily on the goal, on “getting there”, because it almost always takes longer than you’d expect, and even if you do “get there”, you often realize that you have further to go, or you have to “do it again”.
    One of the great riddles of creativity is also its greatest virtue, that this is not a science. Yes, there are patterns, but until something is “out there” it’s impossible to really say how others will receive it, and there’s so many factors beyond “the quality of your writing” that go into whether something is accepted or rejected.
    I often go back to the concept of the muse, the idea that, whether we like it or not, something outside of our control has to “happen” to result in a really strong story, and by a similar token, to see that story take to the air. We have to keep doing our part, knowing that sometimes the same quality of effort will yield stronger or weaker responses from the world. It’s maddening, truly, but we really only have three choices: keep trying, try differently, or take a break, and no one can truly say what’s the right choice for anyone else.

    1. That’s very true. As always, it’s up to every individual writer to do what they will with another writer’s advice, since it can’t always be generalized to fit everyone.

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