Rejection. We face it all the time in life. Whether it’s with relationships, job applications or bank loans, it doesn’t matter. Rejection hurts.
With the exception of relationships, you can be pretty certain that most rejections are anything but personal. And even then, most of the times I’m sure it’s “them” and not you.
As a writer, we’re faced with rejection everywhere we look. When applying for new jobs. When pitching new articles. Even when submitting an article and having your editor rip it to shreds. It may be business, but rejection still hurts.
Writers generally welcome constructive criticism. I know I do. I never want to just “settle” when I’m writing something. It doesn’t matter if it’s a blog post, a feature article or even a photo caption. I want to make sure that my writing is as good as it can be. Of course, that doesn’t mean I won’t get upset when someone offers me some suggestions.
In the past, I used to get my feathers ruffled a bit when an article would come back with loads of red marks throughout and tons of follow-up questions. “I’m the author. What I wrote was gold!” I’d say to myself. Well, not out loud anyways. But you get the gist.
Articles are like a writer’s baby. We know assistance can improve the little guy, but we all like to think we’re the best parents around and we don’t need any help. Only with practice, acceptance and even a little humility can we all accept help with open arms.
While I still want my work to be 100% perfect every time I’m done with it, I no longer get upset when asked for changes or rewrites. I write two columns a week for CafeMom’s The Stir. And while many of the readers may end up bashing me for my columns (Sad but true fact #7: The comments on any of my Stir articles are generally crazy, vicious and way more entertaining than the actual posts.), they’d be floored if they knew that my wife actually helps me with them.
Since I’m writing about topics from a male perspective for a female audience, I want to make sure that what I’m saying makes sense and doesn’t cross any lines. Yes, I have an editor (And Catherine and Suzanne each rock in their own way), but before I even submit anything to them, I run some of my articles by my wife first. Sometimes she’ll offer tiny suggestions, other times she’ll tell me it’s just not funny at all and I’ll start over.
Then there’s my editor Nina over at Zamzee. She’s a big fan of red pens I imagine, since she loves to mix things up on the articles I’ve written. She’ll move paragraphs around, suggest different directions, and ask a few specific questions. And in the end, every single one of my articles is way stronger than when it began.
Now that’s criticism, not rejection. Two different things that overlap a bit. So how do you handle out-and-out rejection whether it’s a job or a story pitch? The same way. With your head held high.
I’ve applied to tons of jobs (both freelance and full-time). If I even hear back from 25% of them, I’m lucky. Usually it’s like I’m talking to thin air. So when I get a rejection back, yeah I’m upset, but I’m happy I’ve at least been acknowledged. Plus, they might keep my resume on file and after applying or pitching a number of times, they may get used to seeing my name. Perhaps at one point, they’ll even accept my story idea or application.
The bottom line is: Don’t let rejection stop you. Let it inspire you. When a football team makes it to the Super Bowl and they end up losing by one stinking point, do they quit playing? No. They work even harder over the off-season and come back fighting even tougher the next season.
Learn from your mistakes. If you’re rejected, try following up. Thank the company or person for taking the time to at least get back to you. And ask if they can offer any advice. Why weren’t you a good fit? What was wrong with your story pitch? What could you have done better to increase your chances? Any information you can gleam from them will be helpful. Plus, they may even be impressed that you’re the type of person who’s looking to improve themselves.
Every writer faces rejection at some point. Some more than others. It’s not the rejection that really matters, though. It’s how you handle it that makes all the difference in the world.
How do you handle rejection?
Photo via Steve Snodgrass/Flickr