Being a writer means developing a thick skin, which is easy to say and hard to do
Part of being an author is putting our work out there for other people to see. Sometimes this means sharing our writing with other writers, passing it out to family and friends, or posting it on a blog. Other times we self-publish (more on that later). But eventually most of us get to the point where we submit our work for publication.
When we click “send” to deliver that email or “submit” to complete an online form, we do so with trepidation. We hope to hear “yes” but we fear a response of “no.”
I’ve heard both. Acceptance sends our spirits soaring, filled with excitement and packed with affirmation. Rejection spirals us downward, filled with deep despair and packed with self-doubt.
I’ve been there. Every writer has.
When someone rejects our work and tells us “no,” here’s what we need to remind ourselves:
It’s Not Personal: The rejection isn’t rejecting us; it’s rejecting one piece of our work, nothing more. Though it rarely happens, if they attack us personally or make broad statements about all of our work, then we need to reject them because they don’t know what they’re talking about.
It’s One Person’s Opinion: We all have opinions and sometimes we can be wrong. The same applies to those who evaluate our work. They just might be in error. (Though hearing the same thing repeatedly may signal an opinion to consider.)
It Doesn’t Define Us: Hearing “no” to one piece of our work doesn’t apply to us as a person or as a writer. The rejection of one piece is nothing more. Our body of work is more than one item of writing, and we are more than our body of work.
It Brings Us Closer to Publication: Salespeople know that “each ‘no’ gets them one step closer to ‘yes.’” They know selling is a numbers game, so they push forward until someone says “yes.” Guess what? Submitting our writing is sales.
If it Was Easy, Everyone Would Do It: Writing is hard work. Most people want to write a book or wish they had, but few actually do. We are the few who have written. This automatically makes us part of an elite group. The fact that writing is hard actually serves to reduce the competition. That’s a good thing.
It’s Like Life: Life has its ups and downs. We need the bad times to appreciate the good. Writing is the same way. If we heard “yes” on every submission, we would fail to appreciate it. Plus when we hear “no…”
It Makes Us Strive to Do Better: While we could let rejection break us, we’re better off using it to make us stronger. We work harder to write better. We should use the noes of writing to motivate us to improve.
Rejection sucks. It truly does. When it happens we need to mourn the loss for a time and then move on. When we do this we move toward publication.
Don’t let the noes of writing stop you from hearing the yeses.
Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.