Writing Advice of the Week: Rejection is a Beginning

Reading Time: 9 minutes
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You took the chance and submitted that piece of writing to a magazine, contest, agent, editor, or other publication venue. You patiently waited the requisite amount of time, hands tingling in anticipation, to hear whether you’d be published.

The excitement was high, and you sent good vibes into the universe hoping beyond hope for some good news.

Then the reply email came in.

You opened up that message as if it were a pond in a desert and you a hapless traveler in desperate need of hydration.

Except the pond was only a mirage, and now your mouth is full of hot sand.

Rejection burns.

It stings the ego, makes you question your skills as a writer and storyteller, and may lead to thoughts of quitting.

I’m not cut out for this.

You’re wrong.

Writing and storytelling are skills anyone can learn with a little practice, the right mindset, and a bit of help. And rejection isn’t the end of your literary road as long as you keep driving ahead.

That’s because rejection is a powerful tool for growth — if you let it be one.

But to grow, you must first squash that fear of rejection so you don’t become trapped in a downward spiral of perceived ineptitude.

Kicking off the writing advice for this week is 100 Days Of Rejection by Garry Rodgers for Killzoneblog.com, who shared his personal story of rejection, which — let’s be honest — takes guts. And his article includes a link to a TED talk I highly recommend you take the fifteen minutes to watch.

As hard as it may be to imagine, the most successful people are often those who were rejected the most.

And if you need some tips to help gamify your rejections, even just to get comfortable with the idea of rejection, check out 3 Ways To Soften Rejection by Sue Bradford Edwards for WOW! Women On Writing Blog.

Now, I love collecting rejections, putting them in a place where I can see them because it’s a showcase of my hard work. Sue seems to agree!

While she uses a different collection method than I do, collecting rejections — even setting a rejection goal for yourself — can help make the process a little less daunting and a little more fun.

And in case you still need to hear this, you don’t need to quit on your writing dream because a few folks weren’t jumping out of their skins to publish your work right away. Not even close.

Give yourself a pep talk by reading 12 More Reasons Not To Give Up On Your Writing Dreams by Meg Dowell for A Writer’s Path. The post is a numbered list of reasons to keep driving along that literary road to become a writer.

And I love Meg’s positivity about meeting your own goals, even if they don’t feel groundbreaking or life changing — or whatever other buzzwords folks are using these days — to others.

Own your awesomeness.

Now, while you’re growing in confidence and character, don’t forget to look for valid and actionable advice buried within those rejections. Sometimes, the respondent delivers a banger of a piece of feedback, and you won’t want to miss it.

For example, perhaps your rejection response referred to flowery writing. That may be a sign you have underdeveloped prose. If so, check out the video, Stop Blaming Adverbs! This Is The 1 Trick To Fix Your Writing by Tim Grahl for Story Grid. Tim covers a lot in a relatively short video, focusing on ways to enhance your writing to reduce redundancies and better show what’s happening in your story so readers have what they need to picture it.

And if you’ve any questions about why flowery writing may be tanking your publication chances, or if you’ve received feedback that your work is skimmable, read Tightening Our Prose: Too Much Information by D. Wallace Peach for Story Empire.

One of the most common bits of feedback I give authors is that there are far too many details — about the setting, the characters, the event. And Diana covers how to assess your descriptions for relevance to the immediate scene at hand, which is critical to delivering the right information at the right time.

And perhaps your feedback included confusion about the fictional world you created for your characters. If that’s the case, the video World-Building Mistakes New Writers Make — Avoid These Cringeworthy Cliches by Abbie Emmons will help you avoid that mistake before your next submission. Abbie talks through delivering exposition through character actions and experience, rather than info-dumping all over your reader at the onset.

Because it’s the characters that make the world matter, so find things about the world that actually matter to your characters.

Remember: whomever you’ve submitted your piece to probably received a whole pile of other submissions too. And since there are a limited number of hours in a day, most folks have simple ways to decrease their potential reading time.

So, don’t overlook the all-important self-edit before you submit, because a submission riddled with grammatical errors may result in an automatic rejection. Check out How To Polish Your Final Draft by Brenda Copeland for Career Authors, whose tips will help you eliminate unnecessary bits from your story that no longer serve your work or your readers.

The next time you submit your current piece or another piece you haven’t even dreamed of yet, remember that rejection is part of the business of writing. So pick your method to handle rejection with grace, and keep driving ahead on your path to literary greatness.

As always, there was a lot of advice I couldn’t share this week, so check the links below to grab what you need.

I’d love to hear your feedback on this week’s writing advice.

Did a piece of advice stick out as particularly useful?

Was there something you didn’t like this week?

Share in the comments below.

Happy writing!

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Edited by Melody Friedenthal

Fallon Clark is the book pal who helps you tell your story in your words and voice using editorial, coaching, writing, and project management expertise for revision assistance, one-on-one guidance, and ghostwriting for development. Her writing has been published in Flash Fiction Magazine. Check out her website, FallonClark.com, or connect with her on LinkedIn or Substack.

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