If you’re any kind of artist, in particular, a writer, and put your work “out there” at some point you will face rejection and disappointment. When your he(art) is on the line, writer rejection can be soul-crushing.
There’s always failure. And there’s always disappointment. And there’s always loss. But the secret is learning from the loss, and realizing that none of those holes are vacuums.
–Michael J. Fox
According to Psychology Today, rejection piggybacks on physical pain pathways in the brain. We have a “fundamental need to belong” and rejection rocks our core. So yes, writer rejection hurts. The key is to not allow it to shut you down.
Writer Rejection, The Good News:
You were courageous and put yourself out there. Your writing has seen the light of day. No matter what happens or what reactions you receive, that is a huge win! So celebrate when your writing goes out into the world—and do something to remind you of your win. When I face a disappointment, I look at my physical published books or glance at the congratulations cards hanging on the bulletin board in my office. I keep special ones for this very reason; they help me get back on my creative feet.
Writer Rejection, It’s Okay to Feel Bad:
Take some time, and don’t try to pretend everything is fine. Go ahead—feel bad. Wallow for a bit. Need to wail? Scream? Go ahead, do it. If you have a trusted friend, talk about it. Letting disappointment out is a good step toward moving on.
But, don’t let what-could-have-been weigh you down forever, and don’t wallow endlessly in self-pity as it turns into depression. Don’t allow your disappointment to grow into something bigger. Give yourself an amount of time to be bummed out. Then move ahead.
Writer Rejection, Don’t Let Your Inner Critic Take Control:
Make a list of your accomplishments, your creative endeavors, all your good points, and your successes. Record what you are grateful for and list what good things have happened to you. Tag this page (or save the list) and return when you need to tame your inner critic.
Writer Rejection, More good news on your bad feelings:
They give you an opportunity to build your resilience. Will rejection and disappointment always hurt? Yep. Will it always hurt this much? Not if you can help it!
Writer Rejection, Reframe and Regain:
What have you learned from this disappointment? How has it helped you grow? How will you come back better? Finding something positive in the situation will help you process your feelings and get back in your creative groove.
Writer Rejection, Step Back and Look at the Big Picture:
Reflect on what your creativity and writing means to you. Do you really want one disappointment to take that away?
Writer Rejection, Refocus on Your Writing and Goals:
Rejection, criticism, or not achieving an expectation doesn’t mean you are done. It means it’s time to try again. Healing comes with engaging your creativity, so take a deep breath and write!
Over the rejection? Time to face your fear and send out more queries.