5 Easy Steps to Conquer the Heartache of Rejection

There is no writer, no matter how famous and fabulous, who doesn’t deal with rejection. One might say that the difference between a published writer and an unpublished writer is that one of them was persistent in the face of rejection and the other one simply folded. I say, don’t let rejection bury you! Instead, take these simple steps that will lead you gracefully and quickly out of the boggy-bottomed swamp of rejection-based self-pity.

1. Accept the simple fact that rejection is part of your writing life. Accept that you will not get special treatment. Ever. The bigger your ego, the bigger the self-image explosion will be when those first few rejections start appearing in your inbox or mailbox. Each time you are rejected, be sure to look out at the night sky and recognize your insignificance. Let that idea of insignificance keep your ego in check.

GIVEAWAY: Jessica is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (UPDATE: Alison D won.)



WonderBreadSummer pb c jessica-anya-blau

Jessica Anya Blau’s newest novel, THE WONDER BREAD SUMMER (Harper
May 2013), was picked for CNN’s summer reading list, NPR’s summer reading list
and an Oprah summer reading list, too. Her previous novels are the bestselling
THE SUMMER OF NAKED SWIM PARTIES, and the critically acclaimed
DRINKING CLOSER TO HOME. See Jessica’s website or find her on Twitter.
Read Jessica’s past guest column, “7 Things I’ve Learned So Far.”



2. Detach from your work once it’s completed. You are not your work. Your work is simply something you created. When your work is rejected, no one is saying anything about you, your intelligence, your character, your beauty, your sex appeal, your finesse with the outdoor grill, your yodeling talents. They aren’t even necessarily saying anything about your writing skills. What they are saying is that the work you handed them did not line up with what they want to publish. Period. Your work doesn’t pout, shut down the computer and eat a pint of Cherry Garcia when it’s rejected. It doesn’t give a British shite what some random editor thought of it. Follow Work’s lead. Work is smarter than you!

3. Keep moving forward. Nothing will happen to your work if you don’t allow it to be thrown out into the world and rejected. When the rejections start coming in, your job is to outnumber them. For each two rejections you get, send out your manuscript to three more people. When those three come back, send out four. If your manuscript is well-written and smart, it will eventually find a home. Do not be shamed into slowing your pace. Send it out again. And again. And again. And again.

(Pay it Forward — 11 Ways You Can Help a Friend Market Their New Book.)

4. Start writing. Writing something new is the best way to feel alive, pertinent, and viable. A new piece gives you hope, enthusiasm, and energy. When you are in “the zone,” writing will transport you out of yourself, out of your ego, out of your own life and whatever little idiocies are pricking at your ankles like biting fleas. That good writing feeling is a cool, soothing balm on the sting of rejection.

5. Be grateful. Be glad that you have enough brain cells clustered in your head that you can actually write a piece that’s polished enough to send out. Be grateful that you have two working legs that can get you to the post office to send your manuscript off. (And if you’re reading this and you don’t have two legs, be glad that you have eyes to read!) Spend time with someone you love—your kids, your partner, your family, your best friend. Be grateful for those people. Look at yourself through your loved-ones’ eyes so you can see how insignificant the rejection is. Then go into the kitchen and stand next to the overflowing, fetid, trashcan. Rip the latest rejection letter in two and shove it beneath the coffee grounds and greasy chicken scraps. (If you feel so inclined, you can spit on it. But if you’ve followed the first four steps, you won’t even care to spit on it.) While you’re standing there, say these words: Yes, I’m alive. Yes, I’m loved. Yes, I love others. And yes, dear trashcan, I love to write.

Now get out of the kitchen, fire up your computer, and get going!

GIVEAWAY: Jessica is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (UPDATE: Alison D won.)


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12 thoughts on “5 Easy Steps to Conquer the Heartache of Rejection

  1. erifnosmirc

    Thanks for for this article. It’s really easy to fall into a funk after a rejection, and especially so with repeated rejections. Just have to remember your tips, as well as the fact each “no” is that much closer to the eventual “yes.” That is, of course, if you keep at writing, revising, and submitting.

  2. cgoold

    I loved your voice, tone and tips in this post! Especially enjoyed and appreciated Step #5, which is something I often forget to do – just be grateful for the process of writing and life, instead of focusing on some fantasy destination. (Kind of like the difference between a marriage and a wedding,come to think of it .. 🙂 )

  3. dymphna st james

    In spite of rejection the encouragement is even sweeter. You don’t mince words with the feelings of rejection. I agree you need to start writing something new and forget about the rejection and pour yourself into the craft and write and refine until the next rejection or acceptance. Good commentary.

  4. vrundell

    Thanks so much for the pep talk! Rejection sucks–no matter what it’s about–but it’s always good to remember: hey, this time it isn’t personal!

    I absolutely LOVE the titles of your books. Thinking I gotta check them out, now.

  5. dottoressapia

    Thank you for the words of encouragement. I know all this to be true, but need to keep reminding myself! I have decided to print out this advice and post it above my writing desk.

  6. Lina Moder

    The part about being grateful about what we have and about having the love of writing and everything else in our life is so so true. It’s something that we always need to remind ourselves of, regardless of what agents or other people say!

    This was excellent advice 🙂

    Thank you!!

    linamoder at gmail dot com


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