Rejection. It can cut you down instantly and leave you riddled with self-doubt. It’s painful and dangerous.
Each of us has giants that block our paths and threaten our success. Rejection is one of my biggest giants. Truthfully, I haven’t handled it well.
Reading about best-selling authors who were rejected countless times and persevered to have stellar careers is inspiring … sort of. Sometimes, though, they seem too far away from my reality.
With this in mind, I searched for inspiration and advice closer to home. I wanted people who are real to me. Writers who work in the same field as me. Mentors who we can learn from, whose work we study and admire. Certainly they’ve experienced rejection and learned from it …
So who better to ask than writers known to all of us here at Wealthy Web Writer? So I sent a set of questions to Heather Robson, Christina Gillick, and Jim Wright. They each shared about a time when their work was rejected, and I’d like to their lessons and insights on to you …
Strategies for dealing with rejection
To prevent rejection from pushing you off your path to success, you need to be persistent and have a plan in place to deal with it. A strategy improves your recovery rate and gets you back on track.
Rejection is inevitable. It will happen, probably more than once. Whether you’re a novice or have years of experience, you are not immune to it.
Heather recounted an incident that occurred when she was already an established professional writer. She said the incident ‘blindsided’ her and left her feeling awful and full of self-doubt.
Christina had been writing for a while and her career was gaining momentum. When her work was rejected, she was mortified. She felt foolish; her inexperience in dealing with that type of project had been exposed. She wanted to give up and thought her writing career may end there.
Yet, both of them lived to write another day.
Find a way to let your negative feelings out. What you do will depend on you. Sob, rant, go for a run, or devour chocolate.
Releasing your hurt and anger makes it easier to move onto the next step …
To move forward professionally, review the situation objectively. Look carefully to learn where the problems originated.
Despite their initial reactions, Heather and Christina each showed their professionalism and dedication to their work.
After ranting, Heather said: “I opened the document I sent, set aside my ego, and read through everything I had written. Trying to be honest with myself and hard on myself at the same time … ”
Christina made a decision: “I knew if I wanted to write for them again, I had to fix my mistake — quickly! I overcame it by starting over. I researched correctly and thoroughly, redeveloped a Big Idea, got approval before moving forward, and rewrote the project.”
Resist becoming stuck in feelings of despair and denial. Instead of rejection being the gatekeeper of your success, it can teach you about:
- Yourself, personally and as a writer
- Your writing skills
- The business of writing
- The market you are working in
Each of our mentors focused on the valuable lessons they learned and used them to boost their skills and careers.
Heather reminded herself of the importance of professional conduct in business. Despite her own attempt to deal with the situation professionally, she didn’t receive a professional response, and then she gave ground when she shouldn’t have. She realized she needed to be comfortable with uncomfortable situations and to politely insist on professional behavior in potentially confrontational situations.
Through the editing process, Jim continually learns about the skill and craft of writing: “What it’s taught me is that writing — good writing — is hard work, and, when done well, is a true craft. You’re not going to slap good writing together any quicker or easier than you’re going to slap a quick handmade wooden chair together.”
Christina added to her writer’s tools by gaining insight and experience in her writing and business skills, and the market she was working in. She explains: “I learned that jumping into a project and writing creatively wasn’t going to work. To be an effective copywriter, I would have to spend at least as much time researching first.
“I learned how to plan properly, and write an effective sales letter. I also learned to check-in with my client throughout the project to make sure we’re on the same page.”
Join a writers group.
Support from fellow writers helps you realize that rejection happens to everyone. They are in an excellent position to empathize, support, and offer advice relevant to your situation. You can learn new coping mechanisms.
Belonging to a critique group and submitting work for feedback helps you get used to receiving and dealing with criticism.
Jim reiterates this by saying: “Feedback, review, edits, criticism — whatever you call it — can’t help but make the writing stronger. Welcome it.”
Focus on victories
When rejection weighs you down, remind yourself why you write and what you enjoy about it. Reviewing your writing goals and how they will benefit your life can stir up your zest to continue.
Remember your previous successes. The more you practice writing, the better you get. You can’t get worse. Your success will grow as your skills and experience grow.
Respond proactively. Denying there is a problem or getting angry causes further irritation to your client.
Be willing to hear all their concerns and criticisms and look for ways to solve them. Heather recommends that you need to set emotion and ego aside, learn what you can, and apply it going forward.
A quick response paired with a willing, professional attitude to make the project a success will put your career and confidence back on track.
Have more irons in the fire
Have several projects you are working on and pitching for. It prevents you from dwelling on rejection and forces you to move forward.
As Christina says: “Reaching out for more opportunities means you’ll ultimately get more opportunities. Get through the ‘no’s’ so you can experience more ‘yes’s’.”
The final question I asked Heather, Jim, and Christina was —
What advice would you like to give Wealthy Web Writer members to encourage them, help them deal with and take rejection in their stride?
Their gems of advice all came down to this:
Don’t take it personally
“Rejection is hardly ever personal. It might be about your current skill level. It might be about your timing. It might be something completely unrelated … ” — Heather
“Don’t let rejection get you down … a piece can get rejected for many reasons, some of which have nothing to do with the writing … maybe it’s the wrong time, maybe they already have a similar piece in the Editorial Calendar, or maybe there’s been some world event that’s shifted priorities … don’t take it personally … it’s just the words.” — Jim
“Back in my Mary Kay days, when prospecting, we were told to think, ‘W.O.W. — with or without you.’ This means, I’ll achieve my goals even if you don’t want what I’m offering.” — Christina
Thank you to Heather, Christina, and Jim for sharing their experiences and thanks to all of you for reading.
Is rejection a giant on your pathway to success? How do you deal with it? Share it with us in the comments section below.