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A Step-by-Step Plan For Getting Over Rejection

Last writing post, I gave you a list of magazines, contests, and other publications that young authors can submit to. (Check it out here!)

So let's say you submitted a piece of writing to one of those magazines. You heard back and you're so excited. You start envisioning showing all of your friends and family members your writing in a real live magazine. Then you open up the envelope or click on the email and read...

Chances are, the word "rejected" isn't sitting there in big red print, although it can definitely feel like it sometimes. More often you'll learn that your writing isn't what they're looking for at that time (more on that later) or something along those lines. But it still stings.


I could tell you how famous authors were rejected many times because there are some cool stories about that. For example, J.K. Rowling's smash hit Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was rejected twelve times.

But when your writing, any kind of writing, is rejected, it's not always helpful to hear these rags-to-riches stories. To be honest, when you get rejected, you don't feel that same determination and drive that people in montages in movies have when they face the odds. You feel deflated.


When you face rejection or maybe even multiple rejections in a row, it's easy to feel disappointed, get cranky, and doubt your writing. That's why I've put together this step-by-step game plan for you. It'll help you pick yourself back up, look at your writing honestly, feel better, and became a greater writer.


#1: Read the Message

You've probably already opened the letter or email if you're in dire need of this plan, but I urge you to really look over the message you were sent. Having trouble deciphering the few words of the editor? Check out this handy guide below.


"We do not have the space to publish your writing at the moment." ~ This is something you're likely to get from a magazine. Look at the submission guidelines once again. If they are a smaller magazine or one with specific submission periods, it's a possibility that they actually can't publish your work. They just don't have enough space. Of course, this is also sometimes something they just say. What can I say? Rejection letters are tricky.


"This isn't what we're looking for at the moment / Doesn't meet our needs / Isn't the type of writing we would like to pursue." - If you read some of these phrases in your rejection letter, it means that your writing wasn't right for the publication. We'll talk more about why this might be the case and how to fix it in step 6.


#2: Take a Break

Before we dive more into why you weren't accepted for publication, take a moment for yourself. Right now, you're probably feeling like the editor popped you like a balloon. So relax for a minute and put things into perspective. In the grand scheme of things, this is just one letter. You're going to put many more writings out into the world and there's someone out there who's going to love them. So before you wallow in your misery like the elephant above, remember that it's all going to work out.


#3: Do Something Fun and Active

Don't let the rejection blues get you down. Take a break from stewing about your writing and go do something active that will take your mind off it, especially something outside in the sunshine. Take a hike, walk, or bike ride, go for a swim, dance around your room...anything.


#4: Have Face-to-Face Contact with Others

Don't be cranky alone. Even if you don't want to talk about your rejection, talk or do something with someone, preferably in person. If all else fails, call or Facetime.


#5: Analyze Your Writing

Now that you've relaxed and had some fun, really analyze the writing you submitted. Read it aloud and pay careful attention to lines that don't feel right, pieces of the plot that could be tweaked, etc. Try to see it from an editor's point of view. Do you still think it's good writing? Has it been so long since you submitted it that you don't like it anymore? The probable truth is that if you like it, there might be one or two things you could change before you send it off again. If you don't like it, there's still probably something salvageable.


#6: Analyze the Publication

Like I mentioned when I told you to read over your rejection letter, there's a possibility that your writing wasn't right for what you submitted it to. Take a good look at the publication's submissions page and read what they've published if you can. See what type of writing they prefer, such as long or short, poems or prose, adult topics or children's, strong plots, etc.


#7: Re-Write

Now that you've seen what you want to fix in your writing and you've decided what publication is perfect for your new-and-improved piece, it's time to re-write. You can type it all out differently, switch up the plot, keep certain lines and delete others, and/or do some heavy editing. It's tricky, but keep working on it until it's what you want it to be. (I like this post about re-writing poems.)


#8: Send It (Or Something Different) Out Again

Now it's time to send your writing out again! You can send off the revised version of your rejected piece, or tuck that piece away for later and send off something else. Whatever you do, don't throw away your writing. You never know what will end up inspiring you down the line.


So that's it! Those are all the tips I have for getting over a writing rejection. What's your experience with rejection? Do you bounce back easily or does it take you some time? Let me know in the comments. Ciao, Zoe.


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