Skip to main content

The Art of Rejection

  • Author:
  • Updated date:

She writes, eats and hydrates, exercises, and sleeps. Rinse and repeat.


It's a bummer to get rejected

It's a bummer to get rejected

Have you ever been told your work was of subpar quality?

If you have, you can understand the sinking feeling and discouragement that comes with rejection. And if you experience rejection after rejection, you lose confidence in your abilities as a writer.

A typical reaction? Protect yourself by calling it quits as a writer.

Yes — quit.

Then again, giving up writing because you got rejected should be off the table. If you’re determined to be a successful writer, that is.

So here, let’s go over something that most — if not all — writers experience: rejection.

Particularly, let’s discuss the four stages of rejections — modeled after the famous stages of grief by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. I’ll talk about how you should handle them and how they may be a blessing in disguise.

Stage 1 - Denial

“Rejections come, rejections go,” goes the classic truthful saying. But, here’s the problem: telling yourself that is like telling yourself to be complacent.

It’s like saying rejections are part of life. And that no matter how well you try, you can’t avoid them because they’re part of life.

Well, that’s the opposite of true. Rejections are not part of life. They’re also not unavoidable.

The truth is a hard-to-swallow pill: Rejections happen because your writing isn’t good.

Once you make peace with that truth, you’re off to the next stage.

Stage 2 - Accepting your fault

After getting rejected, you may experience analysis paralysis.

Analysis paralysis is a state in which you’re mentally paralyzed because you keep over-analyzing a situation. Rather than solve a problem, you’re stuck with what-ifs and other theoretical possibilities.

Here are some possibilities as to why the rejection is your fault:

  • Failing to follow instructions
  • Un-proofread work
  • Spammy
  • Irrelevant and unrelatable

You may dwell on these possibilities if need be. But set a time limit.

Scroll to Continue

It’s a masochistic attitude to keep allowing these thoughts to linger in your head. They won’t do you any good.

So, after some time of dwelling, move on. Accept that your submission got rejected — and it was your fault.

Stage 3 - Appreciating the feedback

That reasoning about people being out to get you? It’s understandable to feel like it after a rejection. But, you need to get rid of it.

People usually aren’t mean without a reason — and this statement couldn’t be any more true if you’re dealing with professionals.

So, review the message containing the rejection again. Read it from the author’s point of view and understand the reason they rejected your work.

Stage 4 - Trying again, trying better

Getting rejected is demotivating. The good news? It’s not the end of the world.

Acknowledge the reason your article got rejected, use it to refine your rejected article, and try again. If you’re not allowed to re-submit your article, try another publication.

How I handled rejection

I went through all four stages of rejection, too.

But I learned and did my part to improve my writing skills.

What I did to be better:

  • Listened to better people - I surrounded myself with people who are way more successful than me. I also explored and joined writing communities to meet fellow writers.
  • Used tools to improve my writing - I focused on correcting errors in readability, grammar, syntax, and sentence structure. Grammarly and Hemingway App are examples of the tools I use.
  • Shifted my attitude - I learned and understood why I was a not-so-good writer. So, I took it upon myself to make changes. Daily, I exercised, read more, and ensured I get enough rest.

And here's the thing

Did you know JK Rowling got rejected by 12 different publishing houses before Bloomsbury accepted her manuscript of "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone"?

Had she given up, there would be no existence of Harry, Ron, Hermione, Hogwarts, and basically all the magical things that made the lives of 90s kids more colorful.

And that's just JK Rowling. The long list (of writers who underwent rejection) includes:

  • Stephen King
  • C.S. Lewis
  • George Orwell

So yes, rejections suck. But, what sucks more is if you don't pursue what you want to do.

Final thoughts

Look at rejections as stepping stones to bettering yourself as a writer. That’s what I did, and it worked wonders.

Why not do it, too?

Other independent writers had their share of rejections — and lived to tell the tale. Learn from their stories as you create your own.

Related Articles