Monday, 11 February 2013

Dealing with Rejection – Part 2

As stated in part 1, there aren’t many writers who relish a rejection.  It’s a word that most fear, and some hate, while others – usually those experienced enough to have plastered an entire room with rejections – simply shrug and carry on.

But the thing to remember with rejections is that not all are bad.  Receiving one can be a positive experience – although it won’t feel like it at the time.

Turning rejection into a positive thing

Is there such a thing?

Actually there is.  Rejections can be, for want of a better cliché, a blessing in disguise. 

Without them, writers wouldn’t be able to improve and develop.  But how is that possible?

Rejections, on the whole, usually specify where the story lacks, whether it is weak, or needs stronger characterisation, or there maybe plot pitfalls etc. The editor might have taken the time to point out some possible improvements.  This means that the story could be strengthened rather than dumped into the nearest bin. 

Feedback should enable the writer to learn from those errors and improve their work.  This is a continual learning process – rejections means ironing out the flaws and making the work the best you can possibly make it.

It is up to writers to digest the advice and suggestions given by editors – if they truly want to improve and develop - and they should rewrite the story to make it much better and stronger.  They would then be in a position to resubmit work.

It’s not uncommon to receive several rejections for the same piece of work – but the idea is to remain positive, take on board any comments and edit the work, improving it all the time.  That’s how we learn and develop as writers.

There are occasions when you receive a summary rejection with no comments, so it’s very disheartening to know where you have gone wrong.  With these types of rejections it is best to re-examine the work and go through it thoroughly to see where you can improve the piece, because writers can always improve on their work.  Fact.

Always think like an editor, too:  Is the story strong enough?  Are the characters well thought out?  Is the plot water-tight?  Is there a balance of description, narrative and dialogue?  Is it believable?  Does it grab the editor’s attention?  Are there any grammar mistakes, etc?

 Reacting positively to rejection:

·        Be professional.  Always take on board any comments – editors are there to help you improve.  If you disagree with comments or criticism, then have someone else look over your work for further opinions – a fellow writer or editor. 

·         Make sure you are not overreacting or taking it personally.  You control the writing – the writing should never control the writer.

·         Always look over your story for ways improve it.  Think like an editor.  Don’t write a good story, write a great story.

·         Let it motivate you to do better.  Remember, rejections help create better writers.

·         Be persistent.  Don’t let rejections turn into negativity.  Pull your socks up and get on with the job in hand – making that story better and stronger. 

·         Keep submitting.  The more you submit, he likelier it is to get an acceptance.  Hard work does pay off in the end.

·         Self-revision is a key factor in recognising strengths and weaknesses in your creative writing, so make sure you revise your work thoroughly before sending it to editors/publishers.

·         Never give up.

Above all, plan to receive a rejection.  It is an essential part of being a writer. It’s less of a disappointment when it does happen, but a fantastic bonus if it’s accepted.

Finally, take heart that the vast majority of famous novelists have been rejected umpteen times throughout their careers.  They did as most writers do – they dusted themselves down, took on board the criticism, swallowed their pride an got on with the job – writing.

Next week: Writing from experience.

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for your take on rejection. It's good to know that others experience it too and the best way to tackle it.

    After initial pouting, I have to grudgingly admit that the the criticism given is usually positive and improves the piece. Still, practice makes perfect and you have to pick yourself up and get on with it!

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