Dealing With Rejections – Part 2
Last week we looked at the types of rejection and understanding what a rejection really means as opposed to what writers interpret them to mean. In this second part we’ll look at what to do if you receive a rejection – whether that’s the first one or the hundredth one – and how to deal with it positively.
So, if you’ve received a rejection, the first emotion you’ll encounter is...rejection. Emotional rejection, that is; the idea that you as a writer must be rubbish and your work must be rubbish and no one wants you. And it feels like a punch to the guts. But this isn’t the case, as we’ve looked at in Part 1. This emotional response is normal, because we feel hurt, but it’s how we deal with it that helps us to remain confident and focused.
Rejection = Improvement
Writers rarely realise that rejections are actually a good thing. Why? Because with the rejection there may be a few brief notes from the agent or publisher to say why the manuscript failed. This is a positive thing.
No manuscript is perfect. No story is perfect. You may think you have a perfect story and manuscript, but in reality you don’t. No author is a genius, so always be realistic when assessing your own skill and talent. So when an agent or publisher picks up on some areas that need attention or development, it means you have the opportunity to improve. To become better.
Look at the rejection as a way of encouraging yourself to improve and become a better writer. Rejection is all about improvement. This means that when someone points out your dialogue structures need attention, then work hard and make them better. If your characterisations aren’t up to scratch, work to make sure they are. If the agent says your writing is sloppy, then look at why and go and study some books and come back with stronger writing. Improvement is all about knowing what your strong and weak areas are and working to make them both better, all the time.
The second most common reaction is a knee-jerk response of indignation – “How dare they reject my amazing manuscript. Don’t they understand talent when they see it?”
We all think we have the most amazing story ever written until we receive that first rejection and everything comes down to Earth with a bump. That’s because we should understand we’re not the world’s greatest novelist – not yet anyway – and that writing is a constant learning curve. We’re always learning. So rather than feel indignant, re-read the agent/publisher’s words and look at it objectively. Try to understand why your work was rejected. It’s not a negative – it’s a positive, as long as you keep your ego out of it.
Don’t rush anything - spend some time reading the same genre books, study the craft further and practice on those weak areas. It’s all too easy to rush your manuscript out to another half a dozen agents/publishers in the belief that they will love your manuscript and the other agents have no idea what they’re talking about...except they do know what they’re talking about, because they’ve been doing it longer than you’ve been writing.
Instead, take stock and give yourself a break, then come back to the manuscript and go over it again and work on the areas that need improvement. Take on board the comments you receive. Take the time to work on it, and your determination.
While you take the time out, why not read books similar to yours in style or genre? Sometimes just reading other books gives us a much needed injection of encouragement and inspiration – how do they grab you, what is it about them that works and keeps you reading? The more you read, the more you will understand writing, and you will improve because of this.
Share Rejection Stories
A problem shared and all that. This works for rejections, too. So if you belong to a writer’s group, an online network or similar, then talk about and share your rejection stories. Talking unburdens us, and we need to realise that we’re not the only one in the world that’s been rejected. Others have gone through it, and they can help you to take encouragement from it.
Being rejected doesn’t mean we stop. Far from it. It means we keep going. Because what we learn now will help us improve for the next novel, short story or poem.
Remember that rejection isn’t a death sentence on your writing. It’s an opportunity to improve and become a better writer. Rejection should be the foundation on which you build the strongest, most amazing story you’ve ever written.
In Part 3 we’ll look at ways of avoiding being rejected, the kind of things a writer can do to help themselves.
Next week: Dealing With Rejections – Part 3