On Being More Creative When You’re Afraid of Rejection

Rejection is just part of the package.

One of my greatest writing weaknesses is thinking outside the box. Sometimes I see headlines or read articles and think, “Wow, I never would have thought of looking at this with that angle.”

You might have these thoughts, too. But it’s not because you don’t know what you’re doing — you’re not terrible at what you do. It’s quite possible that you, like me, aren’t as creative as you could be because of the possibility of rejection.

If you don’t take constructive criticism well, if you shake off every idea that seems “too out there,” if you get nervous sharing your ideas in front of other people, first of all, you’re definitely not alone. Second of all, it makes total sense that showcasing your creativity is harder for you than it seems for other people. That doesn’t make you “weak” — it’s simply one small weakness you — many of us — can work to improve.

One of the most important things I’ve learned about myself in the past two months, working with a team of writers instead of just writing on my own, is that I’m constantly second-guessing myself. Every idea I bring to a pitch meeting, I hover over for days beforehand. Sometimes ideas I think will be great turn out not to work; sometimes the ideas I think will fall through are the ones picked up.

What does that mean? It means you, we, need to learn to separate creative anxiety from the idea. Go with your gut. It doesn’t matter if something gets a “nope” stamp. That’s how we learn what works and what doesn’t. Do you know how many topic series I’ve tried to start on this blog only to watch them fail miserably? That’s how I learned that in this case specifically, series don’t work and it’s not worth countless hours of time to put them together. I’m able to put my energy into other things knowing it’s a waste of time trying something that doesn’t work.

Rejection, in the writing world, is not personal. Usually. Unless you’re a complete monster, an editor isn’t going to say no to your story or book because they don’t like you. Always remember that your ideas are not a reflection of how “good” you are at what you do. We all come up with terrible ideas. We just don’t know they’re terrible until after the fact. That’s how all this works. You try. You crash and burn (sometimes). You get back up. You try something else, or you try something similar a different way. Writing wouldn’t be what it is if growth wasn’t involved. You can’t survive here if you aren’t willing to grow.

I’m going to try my very hardest to let myself be more creative, to run with more ideas that seem like they won’t work. I hope you will, too. It takes a little bravery, and the realization that you’re going to spend a lot of time failing, but in the end, we’re all going to have a lot more fun trying to be the absolute best creatives we can be.


Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.

Writers: Read This If You’ve Been Doubting Yourself Lately

I will never be as good of a writer as John Green.

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I can’t do this.

I’m not good enough.

I’ve never been a good writer and I never will be.

Nobody’s paying attention.

I’ll never get anything published.

Are these the kinds of thoughts that have been running through your head lately? You need to keep reading. Because as ‘normal’ as it is to doubt yourself, that doesn’t make it okay. If any of the following things have been bothering you, or ever have before, it’s because we have all felt, and many of us still feel, doubtful and frustrated because of these and many other things in the past. So what’s wrong?

You keep getting your work rejected and no one will tell you why

This hurts. I know it hurts. I remember the first time I had something I’d written – something I’d worked hard on, and was proud of – rejected. You just can’t let that feeling get the better of you. Take some time to get over it – walk away, watch a movie, eat some sweet potato fries – and then get back to life as normal (aka, writing). Because there are dozens of stories of successful people who have been rejected over and over again and still made something of themselves. How? They never gave up. Rejection after rejection, they just kept trying. You can do the same. It will always hurt, but instead of letting it bring you down, let it motivate you to try harder.

Here’s one of our most popular posts about bouncing back from rejection.

No one is reading your blog

Do you want to know how many people read my first-ever blog post? Zero! Do you want to know how many people read my tenth, fiftieth, one hundredth? Probably still zero. It takes a long, long time to grow an audience. It has nothing to do with you not being good at what you’re doing. The problem is that you aren’t the only one doing it. The blog you start writing will not be the blog you continue writing a year, two, five years from now. It takes awhile for a blog to grow into its own original thing. Technically, I’ve been blogging since 2009 and only last year did it grow above 20 followers. Rebranding aside, if you’re not willing to be in it for the long haul, what are you really in it for? Be patient.

You can never seem to finish anything you start

Been there, never finished that. I’ve started writing things I thought would go super well end never ended up finishing them for really no reason other than I got bored. It happens to everyone – some more than others. Why do some of us struggle to follow through? Discipline, or lack thereof, mostly. To say you don’t have the discipline doesn’t mean you can’t train yourself to strengthen it. Not having the discipline to start, continue and finish a novel is the case for many of us. My best advice for you is to pick one project – just one. Put everything else to the side (but responsibilities first!) and focus just on that one project. If you’re anything like me, your problem is made even worse by the fact that you keep trying to do 20 different things at once. Focus on just one. Focus on it until it’s done, no matter what.

You lost a follower/subscriber

Happens to me all the time! It’s just a number, sure, but when you value each of those numbers for the people they represent like I do, it makes your heart sink. That’s a normal human reaction. We all want to know we’re helping someone, and to see that number go down makes us feel like we did something wrong. Chances are, that person either deleted whatever account they’re using to follow or subscribe to you, or they are trying to decrease the amount of emails they’re getting, or they just went on a massive internet cleanse and cleared out everything they don’t ever look at. It’s probably nothing personal. And if it is for whatever reason, well, that’s their problem, not yours.

You’re not as good of a writer as ___

WHO CARES?? I will never be as good of a writer as John Green. Does that stop me from developing my own style and voice? Of course not! You cannot compare your writing to that of a professional. For one thing, everything you read, while it is written by that person, has been edited several times and layers over. It sounds the way it does because multiple people have combed through it at least two or three times. Never judge the quality of your writing based off of something you read that is professionally published. For another thing, you are, and always will be, your own person. No two people have the exact same writing voice and style. Focus on developing and refining your own instead of worrying so much about trying to match someone else’s.

I know how you feel. I wouldn’t say that if I didn’t. I know that reading other people’s work is hard because it makes you feel inferior. I know rejection can make you want to throw your dreams away and turn your back on writing forever. DON’T. If this is how you feel right now, the good news is that it’s probably not going to get much worse. So now is the time to turn things around.

  • If you are not happy with what you are writing right now, write something else.
  • If no one is paying attention to the things you are writing, keep writing. Also, look for people to connect with who will appreciate what you’re doing. The internet is a big and scary place, but if you look hard enough, you will find the gems.
  • If you keep getting rejected, take a good look at things in your niche that have already been published. What are they doing that you aren’t? Don’t copy; loosely model.
  • Remember: consistency is key. If you want to grow any platform online, posting consistently is one way to keep people coming back.

No matter what you write, who sees it or your reason for doing it, all that matters is that you let yourself be proud of what you accomplish. As long as you are able to praise yourself, nobody else’s opinion, or lack thereof, matters. YOU are the writer. YOU are your only competition. YOU started writing for a reason. YOU are important. So are your ideas. Now go. Put those ideas into words. Link to your blog in the comments – I want to see what you’re up to! YOU are important to me. Your words matter. Don’t keep them locked away because of doubt. Set them free.

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and an eight-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.

Image courtesy of pixabay.com.

Rejection Is the Best Thing That Will Ever Happen to You

It hurt to be reminded that I wasn’t “good enough” yet.

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I had never wanted a job so desperately in my two years of searching.

Every writer has their dream niche, and I wanted mine to be science writing. It was a credible, well-respected publication that had millions of readers. I didn’t have enough science writing experience, despite being as close as I’d ever been to an MS degree. I was slowly gathering more samples, but the timing wasn’t right. I worked on my cover letter for over an hour. I did everything I could, but I wasn’t right for the job (yet), and I knew it.

Yet that rejection email hurt, as most if not all of them do. It hurt to be reminded that I wasn’t “good enough” yet. It hurt to realize that I was working as hard as I could to become a better, more skilled and experienced writer, but had up to that point done virtually nothing to strengthen my credibility in a specific niche.

It was frustrating and overwhelming. There I stood, with two choices in front of me: give up on the science writing niche and stick with a broader writing focus, or start setting more specific goals to establish credibility in the niche I wanted to write in.

I chose both.

The problem with setting goals is that many of them take time, and have prerequisites, and we want things NOW NOW NOW. Yet if you want something strongly enough, you will make it work. You will learn patience. It took another rejection, one that really tore apart my confidence for awhile, to realize that just because you’re not the right fit doesn’t mean you never will be. Or that you won’t be somewhere else.

That realization comes after many, many rejections and failures and years of feeling ignored and discouraged. That’s why you should never give up after only one try. Eventually you learn that rejection is a good thing. It still hurts and it’s still disappointing and yes, it even still makes you wonder if trying again is even worth it anymore. But eventually you come to a point where you realize you haven’t given up yet because you never intend to. No matter how many times you might fall flat on your face.

It’s only April and I’ve failed plenty of times already this year. Do I feel good about those failures? No. I really don’t. And at some point I’ll be able to talk more openly about them. But they haven’t stopped me from pushing forward. It’s embarrassing and frustrating and I’ll be honest, you will never become immune to the urge to quit. But it might take plenty of rejections to come to the conclusion that you’re not going to succeed at everything you do. It’s still worth trying.

I’m probably never going to get that specific job, and I’m slowly getting over it. I still get to write other things daily, and that’s not a privilege everyone can say they have. I’m glad I at least have that, and can continue to help you with your own writing struggles as we figure out how to navigate this journey together.

Off to work. Again. Get back to writing!

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Solution Saturday: No One Seems Interested in My Pitches

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Pitching. Either you love it or you hate it. Regardless of your writing niche, we all have to do it. It can get extremely frustrating, and discouraging, when your ideas just don’t seem to be getting through to anyone, right?

It’s not necessarily the quality of your idea that’s leaving you constantly overlooked. There are a lot of components that go into pitching. We feel a new upcoming series coming on …

But first, we still do want to help you get noticed, or at least increase the likelihood of someone paying more attention to your pitches. 

Solution 1: Find the publication that fits the pitch, not the other way around

It’s probably tempting, when you first start pitching ideas for stories and articles, to seek out your desired publication first. That’s definitely not the best way to go about it. Seeking out a magazine you want to write for, then coming up with a pitch you’re sure they’ll like, you’re putting yourself into a box and sealing the lid. You’re settling for what one publication wants, without giving yourself room to create freely, with the possibility of multiple publications interested in that very topic.

Come up with an idea, maybe even a full story or article, first. Focus on what you want to write about, whatever issue or theme you think is important. Do your absolute best work. Once you have an idea and/or a well-polished draft, then you can do some research and figure out where your work might fit the best. 

Solution 2: Know exactly whom you’re writing to 

Not just the editor that will be reading your pitch: this is important, but what we’re referring to here is your pitch and/or story’s audience. This actually helps with our first solution, too. Know not only the message you want to get across, but who you’re trying to reach. Who do you picture clicking on the link to your story, when it finally gets its own spot on the web?

Knowing your audience makes researching the ideal publication even easier. If you’re writing an article meant for college students, you can narrow your search to college-centered blogs and magazines right away once your pitch is ready to be shared.

Solution 3: If one pitch isn’t working, move on

Sometimes, a pitch needs a lot of refining. Unfortunately, the way the virtual submission process works, your pitch will either get accepted or it won’t. Usually you won’t hear back at all if it’s rejected: you won’t get feedback on how to improve it, leaving that part of the process up to you.

Eventually, if you’ve tried submitting the same pitch to a few different relevant publications, with no results, that might mean your pitch needs some work. Sometimes the focus just needs to be narrowed a bit, in some cases. It’s up to you whether you want to try to rework it or just let it fall to the bottom of the pile. But don’t dwell on it; if one thing isn’t working, don’t waste valuable time fussing over it. Just leave it be and move onto another idea.

It’s not you, and it’s definitely nothing personal. Editors know their publications, especially those in charge of screening pitches and evaluating submissions. They can only accept so many, and they can only accept stories that fit with exactly what they’re looking for. Don’t give up. Honestly, if you spend enough time pitching good ideas, eventually, someone will take notice.

We’re going to write more about this. We mean it. Stay tuned.

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.