How I healed my relationship with rejection

Rejection is easily the hardest part of being a writer and content creator.  Writing and creating are such personal acts and hearing “no” can be soul-crushing.

But here’s the thing about rejection: it can also be your best friend.

Once I got serious about wanting to turn writing into a career, I realized that I needed to fix my relationship with rejection and fast.  I had to let go of my perfectionist mindset and understand that rejection isn’t a reflection of my worth and ability.

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Rather, I about it in terms of match-making.  Your writing might be just right for one publication, but totally wrong for another.  Hearing “no” doesn’t mean you’re bad at what you do; it means you haven’t found a home for your work yet.

I’m still learning how to handle rejection, but I’m proud of how far I’ve come.  Here are 3 practices I implemented to heal my relationship with rejection.

Set a rejection goal

In 2020, I challenged myself to receive 100 rejections.  While aiming for rejection might seem counterintuitive, it reframed my mindset and made getting a rejection a positive experience.

And to receive 100 rejections, I had to apply for 100 different opportunities.  In the end, I got around 115 rejections, a few undergrad literary magazine publications, and a freelance job or two.  I wouldn’t have had those opportunities in the first place.

Separate the art from the artist

As a Creative Writing major, I’m constantly getting my work critiqued.  I used to hate listening in on these conversations because all that stood out to me were the negative comments.  Eventually, I realized that I was internalizing these critiques and making them about me instead of my work.

If you start to internalize your rejections, gently remind yourself that they’re not rejecting you, they’re rejecting your work.

Submit a LOT

Sometimes, we won’t apply for an opportunity because we’re afraid of hearing “no.”  This makes total sense; if we don’t try, we can’t get rejected.

But the opposite is also true: if we don’t try, we’re automatically getting rejected.  The publisher of your dreams isn’t going to knock on your door and beg for your manuscript; you’ve got to put it out there and give it a fighting chance.

Keep a list of your rejections

I keep a list of my rejections clipped to a clipboard that I have hung on my wall.  Having them out in plain daylight reduces the fear I have of my past “failures.”

If we can normalize getting rejections, it takes the pressure off and makes it so much easier to apply.

That’s how I’m healing my relationship with rejection!  What tips do you have for managing rejection?

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