No one likes starting the day off with bad news, but unfortunately, that’s what happened to me today. I opened my email to learn that an article I submitted for publication was rejected.
Ouch. Serious ouch.
I slaved over that article and thought I’d written a brilliant piece of work. I’m new to the freelance writing world, and getting my first rejection was a shock. I thought I was prepared. When your livelihood depends on your writing, the blow to your confidence is awful.
Rejection is part of being a freelancer, but some people aren’t equipped with the right tools for handling rejection in a mature manner. If you’re a highly sensitive person like me, rejection hits a lot harder. While it’s easy to dwell on the negative thoughts and emotions, learning how to move on from a rejection will make you a better freelance writer.
Here are some tips on how to process a rejection:
1. Walk away from the rejection.
Removing yourself from a tough situation will force you to consider things from a new perspective. Close your email, step away from the computer, and silence your phone for a bit. Get outside for some fresh air or go for a walk. Taking a step back will offer you clarity and help you realign your priorities. You’re a newbie, after all. There’s still a lot to learn, and you shouldn’t let one rejection bring you down, no matter how much it hurts.
2. Write down your feelings on paper.
Okay, we write for a living, so we should have no problem writing about our emotions, right? Wrong!
Not everybody’s used to deeply examining their emotions. Doing so will help you understand how you react to rejection and how to move on from it. If you want to doodle a bunch of angry, sentient asteroids hitting the company headquarters or craft a two-page MLA-format essay on why you disagree with the rejection, by all means, do so. The important thing here is to understand yourself.
Be sure to ask yourself some questions. How was the rejection worded? What were my initial feelings? Do I agree with the reason for rejection? Being honest with yourself isn’t easy, but doing so will help you grow as a writer and a professional.
3. Remember this: it might be them, not you.
Some companies are very specific about the work they accept. It’s often the case that your piece isn’t aligned with their values or what they’re looking for at the time. That doesn’t mean your piece is awful!
There are probably a bunch of companies who would love your piece. Send your piece off for review at a few places. If you continue to get rejected, look at the piece itself and see how you can improve it. Understanding what factors lead to a rejection will help you avoid them in the future.
4. Ask other freelancers for advice.
You are not the only person on the planet who’s struggling with this kind of rejection. If you’re on Facebook or LinkedIn (here’s a fun article on how freelance writers can use LinkedIn) join freelance writing support groups and ask for advice (read about some great Facebook groups here). Most of the members have been where you are and will gladly offer advice and tips.
5. Prepare yourself for future rejections.
You got one rejection? Ha. That’s only the beginning. You’re going to get a lot more, unfortunately. Make a list of how you’ll handle future rejections. What will you do? How will you control your emotions? What steps can you take to lower the chances of getting rejected?
While there are many ways to cope with rejection, being mature and professional will make you stronger in the long run. Whatever you do, don’t give up. There will always be a home for your writing if you keep working hard.