How to Keep Writing in the Face of Rejection

If you’re a writer submitting your work publication, chances are you’ve faced rejection. I certainly have; by the time I made my first sale, I had earned over three hundred rejections for my novel-length projects. Rejection can be disheartening, but there’s value in not giving up. Here are some practical ways to stay motivated.

1. Set some small goals.

Long-term goals are great for inspiration, but keep a list of small, attainable goals, too, and allow yourself to feel proud when you achieve them. Reward yourself for finishing a chapter or short story. Recognize that sending a few query letters to agents takes time, thought, and effort, and don’t discount the success. Keep your short-term task list handy, and review it when you need to see evidence that you’ve been moving forward in your writing career.

GIVEAWAY: Holly is excited to give away a copy of King Solomon’s Wives: Hunted to a random commenter. (Comment within 2 weeks.) The book is digital — for Kindle, Nook, and Android, and through the Kindle app on iPhone, iPad, PC, and Mac. (Update: souldancer won.)

 

hunted-holly-mcdowell          holly-mcdowell-author-writer

Holly McDowell is always working on the next episode of her digital
serial novel, King Solomon’s Wives, about women alive today who
descended from King Solomon’s ancient harem. The fun part: it’s
interactive! If you read to the end, you get to vote on the direction
of the story. The first episode is available from Coliloquy, at
Amazon.com, AndroidZoom.com, BarnesAndNoble.com.
McDowell is a very relaxed and accommodating author;
tell her what character to write about next, and
she’ll try to oblige. Find her on Twitter.

 

 

2. Give yourself permission to keep writing.

I’ve heard writers say, “If I haven’t sold something within the next two years, I’ll know I should give up.” Or, “If I don’t make money from writing by January, I’ll know I should stop spending so much time trying, because it’s disruptive to other areas of my life.” But by giving the universe an ultimatum, you’re letting external circumstances decide the course of your creative pursuits. Instead, take charge of your own future. Give yourself permission to keep writing despite discouraging feedback or missed timeline targets. Believe you deserve to continue, no matter what happens.

(Meet literary agent Nicole Resciniti, who is seeking new novelist clients.)

3. You have an audience. Write for it.

Someone, somewhere, likes your writing. This person sees strengths and potential in your work that you may not, and that feedback can be a great source of encouragement and motivation. If you can’t conjure up any other reason to write, write a story for one person you know is a fan.

4. Be a business person.

Be strategic about time: If you can’t work on your novel or memoir, work on something else related to your writing career. Write and submit a short story, essay, or news article. Write a blog post to generate interest in your platform or genre. Interview other authors on your blog to increase traffic. Participate in writing conferences and conventions. Agree to participate in writing-related panels and workshops–many don’t require you to be published, only interested.

Be strategic about money: Work on your more commercial projects first. Write for the short story markets that pay the most money, give you the best name recognition, or get your work in front of the right industry people. Spend your travel budget on the conventions and workshops that will allow you to meet the agents and editors you’d most like to work with.

5. Be great at your job.

You can’t control the publishing industry, but you can control your own level of hard work and skill. So, write. Read. Study other people’s work and take a critical look at your own. Reread books that inspired you in the past, and analyze what makes them appealing. Apply lessons you’ve learned to all your new projects. Your goal should not only be, “to become successful,” but also, “to become exceptionally skilled.” The former will follow the latter, and as you improve, your chances of success get higher.

(How long should a synopsis be? Is shorter or longer better?)

6. Stretch yourself.

Try something new. When I moved to a new city a year ago, I discovered a thriving literary scene there. But it didn’t involve the type of work I was familiar with, fiction. Instead, this new community presented personal essays and humorous monologues at public readings. So, I tried my hand at essays as well. I applied the storytelling skills I’d learned over the years, and I challenged myself to learn new skills, such as writing pieces meant solely to be read out loud. I improved, I enjoyed participating, and I met people who have since supported me in my career goals. Every writing-related challenge you take on moves you toward your longer-term goals and can give you the encouragement and even recognition you need along the way.

Most importantly, remember that you don’t have to quit.

GIVEAWAY: Holly is excited to give away a copy of King Solomon’s Wives: Hunted to a random commenter. (Comment within 2 weeks.) The book is digital — for Kindle, Nook, and Android, and through the Kindle app on iPhone, iPad, PC, and Mac. (Update: souldancer won.)

 

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Other writing/publishing articles & links for you:

 

 

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8 thoughts on “How to Keep Writing in the Face of Rejection

  1. Katie

    Wow. Three hundred rejections. That’s a lot. That’s scary! Good for you for sticking it out, as your series sounds amazing!

    Good luck with your continued success! 🙂

    1. hollymcdowell774

      Hi Katie,

      Thanks for dropping by my blog post! If you’d like the free copy of KSW, please send your email address and preferred digital platform (Amazon, Android, or B&N) to hpmbooks at gmail.

      Best wishes,
      Holly McDowell

    1. hollymcdowell774

      Hi Veronica,

      Thanks for dropping by my blog post! If you’d like the free copy of KSW, please send your email address and preferred digital platform (Amazon, Android, or B&N) to hpmbooks at gmail.

      Best wishes,
      Holly McDowell

  2. souldancer

    Tip 7: Let go of expectations. When I click the ‘send’ button or post a letter, that’s the last I think of it. If I receive a reply (comment or letter), it’s a bonus. If published, equally a bonus 😉 That’s the extent of it for me.

    1. hollymcdowell774

      Hi souldancer,

      Thanks for dropping by my blog post! If you’d like the free copy of KSW, please send your email address and preferred digital platform (Amazon, Android, or B&N) to hpmbooks at gmail.

      Best wishes,
      Holly McDowell

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