Rejection Sucks. But So Does Giving Up.

Rejection Just Ahead Green Road Sign with Dramatic Storm Clouds and Sky.A lot of people will say if you want to avoid rejection, avoid being a writer. But I think most of us – regardless of profession – know all too well the sting of rejection: getting shunned on the playground, not getting into a first-choice college or university, falling in love with someone who doesn’t feel the same, losing out on that perfect job…we’ve all been there. And it sucks.

 But so does giving up.

Yes, writers are perhaps more at risk for more frequent rejection – it is literally part of the job. Take, for example, my path to book deal:

Write a book. (CELEBRATE!) Query said book. Get requests. (CELEBRATE!) Get rejections, all form. (CRY/CURSE INTO BEVERAGE/COMFORT FOOD OF CHOICE). Write another book. (CELEBRATE!) Query said book. Get requests. Get NON-form rejections (CELEBRATE!) Realize I have to revise said book. (CRY/CURSE INTO BEVERAGE/COMFORT FOOD OF CHOICE). Revise said book. Query. Get offers! (CELEBRATE!) Go on submission. Get rejections. (CRY/CURSE INTO BEVERAGE/COMFORT FOOD OF CHOICE) Write a(nother) book. Go on submission. Get rejections. (CRY/CURSE INTO BEVERAGE/COMFORT FOOD OF CHOICE). Start to write a(nother) book. Still on submission. Go to acquisitions. Get a book deal! (CRY AND CELEBRATE!) …

I would like to say the rejections along the way provided fuel to the whole MUST.NOT.GIVE.UP thing — that they made me STRONGER, and a better writer…

Some did. Most didn’t.

But at least I expected rejection. I understood, the moment I decided to query that first book, what I was getting into — I knew rejection was coming, the way you know rain isn’t far behind the dark clouds rolling across the sky. And in many ways I think that allowed me to shelve the “practice” books and to keep writing.

So whether you’re in the early days, or about ready to throw in the towel, here are three ways I made sure rejection didn’t tackle me to the ground:

  1. Give yourself permission to wallow for a specified amount of time. I gave myself 12 hours for a query, 24 hours for a full request, and 1 week for a submission rejection. Except for one nasty rejection that knocked me off my a** for a few weeks, this worked for me.
  2. Choose your poison. I had a good bottle of wine chilled and ready for either big rejections, or big celebrations. (I’ve had to replace that bottle a few, okay, many, times over the past couple of years…).
  3. Draw your line in the sand. You need to decide how important this is, how many rejections you’re willing stomach, how many revisions you’re willing to do, how many books you’re willing to write. Some people get it right on their first book – or they get lucky, and trust me, luck does play a part in all this – but most of us have a longer journey. I knew I would continue writing books until one of them got published. Because for me, giving up sucks worse.

What are you tricks and tips for handling the writer’s rejection ride?

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Karma Brown is the author of COME AWAY WITH ME (MIRA/Harlequin, September 2015), an emotional story of one woman’s discovery that life is still worth living, even if it’s not the life you planned. Karma is also a National Magazine award-winning journalist, and lives outside Toronto, Canada, with her family and their mischievous labradoodle puppy, Fred.

This article has 4 Comments

  1. I love the way you write. You make me laugh, feel, think, and even cry. No rejection from me….but then again, I am your Mom. Xoxo

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