3 Ways to Handle Writerly Rejection

gauntletRemember how we talked about overwhelmed author syndrome last week? Yeah, I’m still stewing in that. I leave for France on Monday for research and I can’t seem to get traction with anything I’ve attempted this week. Lordie, I can barely get this post out. But here we go! My thoughts on rejection are as follows. You can look at it three ways:



We all go here at some point. It’s inevitable. And the thing is, maybe your writing does need a lot more work. Maybe the premise is weak or overdone or stereotypical. Perhaps your characters are cardboard cutouts and your dialogue is stilted. But here’s the beauty in all of these scenarios: you just need to rework your pages. You need buff up your skills. You aren’t done. THIS IS NOT OVER. Think of yourself as in the apprenticeship phase and keep at it!


Heh heh. Right, okay. I’ve been sent a couple of these types of notes from people who have actually paid me to do edits for them, (which I don’t understand, given they’ve reached out to gain understanding as to why they’re being rejected). And I’m not an agent or editor at a big publishing house–I can only imagine the notes they receive. Don’t do this, people. Your crap DOES stink and you DO have to work hard and harder, and harder still, just like the rest of us. This attitude does not endear you to anyone so stop now. (P.S. If you can’t take honest feedback, you should reconsider your life as a writer) Or there’s the flip side…maybe your skills DO rock, but the market is flooded with books just like yours. You can’t change this unfortunate circumstance, so you sit on it while you craft your next masterpiece. By the time that is finished and on submission, you may be able to pull out the other, dust it off, and hook an agent or editor.


This is another way to handle a rejection, and the way I roll. Granted, I mope a little for a day or so, possibly two, depending on how big the rejection is, but then I THROW DOWN THE GUANTLET. THIS MEANS WAR on my pages. I take the feedback and rework, restrategize, and find a couple of fresh readers. I tackle it like it’s my job. Oh wait, it is. I tackle it like it’s the difference between life and death! Because for me, and for some of us, acting, doing, fighting, learning is how we grow and how we achieve. I bet you can guess which way I challenge you to take your big ugly R’s?

How do you deal with rejection?



Author: Heather Webb

Heather Webb is the author of BECOMING JOSEPHINE, her debut historical (Plume/Penguin 2014). A freelance editor and blogger, she spends oodles of time helping writers hone their skills—something she adores. You may find her Twittering @msheatherwebb, hosting contests, or hanging around RomanceUniversity.org as a contributor to the Editor's Posts. She is also the Twitter mistress for the popular Writer Unboxed. She loves making new reader and writer friends. Stop on by her website, Between the Sheets!

6 Replies to “3 Ways to Handle Writerly Rejection”

  1. Perfect timing! I found out last night that I didn’t final in something. It wasn’t a pleasant feeling, to say the least, but I was kind of proud. I’m early (first draft early) into my writing and I’m starting to learn that this is part of the territory. I think about all the greats who’ve faced failure and rejection and then I ask myself what makes me think my road should be any easier? It shouldn’t be, and it probably won’t, but it’s the road I’ve chosen and I’m taking it to the end. 🙂

    1. Good for you for having the nerve to enter the contest! I think these things are really important to do along the way. You learn so much that way. I wish you all the success in the world as you carry on with your journey!

  2. I TOTALLY do number 1 and 3. When I was on submission, I’d let myself mope for a bit (I’d even poke fun of myself for it, and I’d sing the worm song to myself—”Nobody loves me everybody hates me, guess I’ll go eat worms”—because if you’re gonna mope, do it all the way, get it over with, realize the absurdity of it, then move on).

    Phase 3 is the best. I love when you can get past the moping stage and move on to a “you know what? You can’t keep me down” phase because it’s so empowering.

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