Everything You Learn Each Time Your Writing Gets Rejected

You didn’t waste time on that thing that didn’t work out. I promise.

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We’ve talked about rejection a lot on this blog this year. The more I write about writing, the more I get to interact with fellow writers — and the more in-tune I become with the things you’re all struggling with — like rejection, and self-doubt.

That’s what I love most about running Novelty Revisions. I’m constantly learning right along with you. A good writer is on a continuous quest to learn as she grows.

The best way to learn anything, as a writer, is to pay attention to what’s going on around you as you’re in the midst of the action.

Which is why I don’t think we need to be as afraid of getting rejected as we often are.

Like it or not, each no or lack of response teaches you something new about the process … or reinforces something you still need to learn.

Here’s everything even one isolated rejection can teach you.

How to keep writing without wanting to quit

Resilience — a writer’s refusal to quit — is a trait anyone can develop. It takes a lot of practice, as most things do in the writing space. But think about it. If you were to write one thing, submit that one thing, and never write another thing again after that first one got rejected, you’d have wasted your time and learned absolutely nothing.

The more you write and submit and learn to bounce back after rejection, the more it becomes a regular part of the process. It may never get easier, and it’s always going to leave you feeling disappointed. But eventually, hopefully, you’ll be able to get back up and try again without even considering quitting as an option.

How to talk about yourself without sounding arrogant

My least favorite part about pitching to strangers is the part where you have to pitch yourself … which is, let’s say, 95% of every cold pitch. Yes, editors, for example, need to know you can come up with a decent headline and concept for something. But they also need to know why they should trust you to write those stories when they may have gotten similar ideas from a dozen other candidates.

You have to find some kind of balance between showing and telling here (ha!). It’s a complicated process that I’m going to write about in more detail later on. But one of the most difficult things to learn is how to sound confident and capable without sounding like you have a god complex. Basically, how can you make someone like you in two paragraphs? The more you get rejected, the more opportunities you’ll have to practice how to do this.

How to make people think you’re super confident, even when you aren’t

Often, the secret to gaining confidence as a writer isn’t complicated: You just have to fake it. But here’s the thing: at some point, you’ll realize there are moments you really DO feel confident. And that’s something that can only happen when you give it time … and many moments when you have to be confident enough to just “go for it” even when you’re not sure you want to.

No writer is confident about everything they do, every second of every day. But they sometimes have to act more confident than they are. Employers, editors, potential clients — they’re more interested in hiring writers who can not only do good work, but are confident enough about that work to promote it and serve as a morale boost for their company or team. That’s just the reality of the working writer life.

There’s a lot more. But I won’t take up too much of your time. You have some rejections to earn!


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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7 thoughts on “Everything You Learn Each Time Your Writing Gets Rejected

  1. I tend to think that talent is actually “refusing to quit”. Granted, someone may have a natural affinity for something, but unless they practice diligently they won’t get far.

    Selling yourself certainly sounds like an interesting future topic. I look forward to reading it.

    1. On my very long list of topics to cover. ;) I’m planning on covering more of these “selling yourself” topics in videos, but just haven’t put a writing/filming/editing schedule together yet. Soon!

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