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Advice for Writers: How to Handle Rejection

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by Julie Schwietert Jun 20, 2009
Becoming a professional writer means learning about how to handle rejection.

So you want to be a writer.You’re disciplined enough to put pen to paper every day, you know the value of revision, and you’re confident you can craft a successful query or pitch.

But can you handle rejection?

Here are three tips to help you cope with inevitable rejections of your writing:

1. Don’t take it personally.

Writing is a huge part of your identity. It’s also the skill you’d like to ply in order to earn a decent living. But rejection of an article is not rejection of you as a person. Nor is a rejection a summary dismissal of the value of your entire body of work or your future writing.

The sooner you learn this lesson and apply it, the sooner you’ll be able to take advantage of these other tips.

2. Consider rejection a form of constructive feedback.

When you receive a rejection notice, sit with the disappointment for a few minutes. Then, step back from your immediate reaction and take a more analytical posture.

What information has the editor provided about the reasons why your piece was rejected? Now that you’re looking at the piece with fresh eyes, how might it have been stronger? What are its weaknesses? Does this piece really fit in the publication to which you submitted it?

If the editor did not offer any specific feedback (and there are many reasons why we don’t), consider responding with a brief, polite message thanking the editor for his or her time and asking the editor for any advice about future pitches and pieces.

3. Remember: Editors, like tastes, are subjective.

At Matador, we review upward of 50 submissions every week. We know by the end of the first paragraph whether a writer’s submission is likely to fit with the style, format, voice, and vision of our publication.

A rejection of your article doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re not a skilled writer. It often means your particular piece simply doesn’t fit the subjective scope of Matador’s publishing interests.

The same is true for every other publication.

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