The fact that there is more than one way to get rejected as a writer says a lot about the industry as a whole.
If your inbox isn’t filled with rejection templates that don’t even include your name, it’s filled with messages letting you know your submissions have been received — with no follow-up.
If a client or publication does at one point agree to work with you or publish your writing, at some point they almost always end the relationship without a good reason (“we’re no longer taking work from contractors”) or they take one of your pieces and never accept another.
I’ve had clients agree to work with me, accept a signed contract, and then never contact me again.
I’ve had great working relationships with people who one day, without prompt, let me know they either couldn’t afford me anymore or were “holding off on publishing new posts” to their website.
And of course, this is all assuming you hear back at all. I think it’s safe to say 80 to 90 percent of the emails you send or the work you submit never receives a response.
Evaluating all this, it’s easy to understand why so many aspiring writers give up within months to a year of trying to “make it.”
Rejection is draining. You can learn not to take every “no” too personally and still feel the doubt and shame heating up in the back of your mind every now and then. Why didn’t they pick me? Why was that article not good enough? Will anyone ever say yes?
This is a normal human reaction. It has to be. We all want to feel accepted and receive acknowledgment that our hard work means something.
But in terms of writing, I don’t think it’s normal to let rejection change your behavior for the worse.
Yes, rejection can wear you down and make it hard to believe that you’re good enough to succeed as a writer. But why can’t you use that to build yourself up, fuel your fire, and define a new reason to keep trying?
Wouldn’t it be more satisfying to finally “make it” and, in some silent, passive-aggressive way, show everyone that ever rejected you that they were wrong about you all along than it would be to give up?
I can’t speak for everyone, and I’m only one person with one set of experiences to go off of. But I think rejection has the potential to motivate and inspire us, if we let it. We shouldn’t allow all those “nos” to force us into a place of hopelessness and despair. We’re better than that.
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.