When I started out as a writer, rejection letters were commonplace and usually they were simply form letters. I got a sense of dread seeing them arrive in the mail. I didn’t want to read them, but I had to see if it was a rejection or acceptance.
I knew my writing was starting to get better when the editors started adding little notes to the rejection letters like “Almost” or “Keep trying”. Then the rejection letters started becoming specific to my submission.
Finally, I started getting those treasured acceptance letters. Nowadays, I get more acceptances than rejections and I even get editors asking me to take on assignment.
That doesn’t mean that I still don’t get rejection letters. They don’t bother me, though. I’ve developed ways of dealing with them over the years that work well at keeping me focused on the positive.
Keep things in the mail
When I started writing, I would send out a short story and then wait for three months before I heard back a rejection. I spent those months wondering and worrying about what the editor was going to say.
After I had a few stories written, I got into the habit of not worrying about the stories that were in the mail but finding markets for the new stories that I was writing.
As soon as a story would come back in the mail, I would simply send it back out to the next market. By not having to focus on the rejection and let it get to me, I started focusing on the future and finding new markets. With dozen of queries in the mail at any one time, I don’t have time to focus on a single rejection.
Have a list of markets
After I send a story out to the magazine I most wanted to see it published in, I would create a list of additional markets. When I would get a rejection letter, I would simply prepare the story for the next market on my list.
By keeping a list of my top five or ten markets, I didn’t have to look at an unsold story sitting on my desk.
I always have a new market to send my stories to so I don’t worry about a rejection.
Enjoy positive comments
When you do start getting personalized comments on your rejection letters or even personalized rejections, pay attention to the comments. Some of them can help you improve your writing. If the comments are positive, enjoy them. Let them inspire you to write more and write better.
If an editor is interested enough to write you something personal, it means that he or she is interested in your writing. It is a market worth trying again.
Keep writing to remind you why you do it
Don’t let an editor’s opinion make you doubt your writing ability. Write because you love it and want to do it. Keep at it. This is probably the best way to keep from feeling down because of rejection. Write because you love it. Write because you want to do better.