#WritingLife: How to embrace failure and rejection as a writer


You find a lot of how-to articles on the web on how to make it in the writing world. Everything from how to standout when applying to a gig to how to perfect your skills so you are the best at what you do. But I think we need to talk more about failure and rejection, and how to deal with it.

For a while, the fear of rejection and feeling like a failure kept me from opportunities. I would avoid writing an article or applying for a writing gig because I felt I wouldn’t get it and instead of taking a chance, I didn’t try.

Learning how to embrace failure as a writer is liberating. You’ll feel invincible and confident. Taking chances will be exciting and not scary. Here’s how I’ve learned to embrace rejection as a writer so it stings less when I’m told no.

Change your perspective on what it means to fail

I read this Bruce Lee quote a few years ago that has stuck with me. He said, “Don’t fear failure. — Not failure, but low aim, is the crime. In great attempts it is glorious even to fail.” I agree. Failure only exists in the mind. Click To Tweet If you can see the good in failing you’ll fear it less.

See rejection and failure as a lesson

Whenever I submit my work to a magazine or a website, I look forward to the rejection response. I use to dread it and preferred that they not respond at all if they aren’t interested, which most of them did. But when they did send them, they were filled with advice. It’s understandable to view this advice as criticism, but I see them as tips on how to improve my writing. So I’d review the work I sent them, edit it using their tips then submit it somewhere else until someone said yes. It’s better to take away lessons from everything you fail at as oppose to trying really hard to forget them. I’ve tried doing that, and found it gets you know where.

Don’t take it personal

As with everything in life, keeping this rule in your back pocket will get you far. Often times when someone says something we don’t like, we automatically try to vilify them. Sometimes we don’t even realize we’re doing it but we do and that’s not good. If you fail at something, or you experience rejection from an editor, don’t take it personal. You’re not being rejected because they don’t like you and it may not even be that they don’t like your writing. Maybe what you’ve sent to them doesn’t fit what their audience would be interested in or your blog isn’t the type of blog sponsors want to invest in. But someone out there will. And an editor out there will find that same rejected article perfect for their readers. My point is, when it comes to being rejected, it’s best not to take it personally. Taking things personal is a big energy sap and you need that energy to win.

Ask for advice

I believe asking for criticism can build up your immunity to the fear of rejection. Join a writers group on and offline, or have a close friend/relative read some of your work and ask them to give their honest opinion. You need that, I know I do, because if I can’t get use to not getting applauded every time I write something, the one time I don’t (after getting praised all the time) it will be crushing and might even make me feel like giving up. When you ask for advice you put yourself out there. It’s bold, and it’s brave and those are the two characteristics you’ll need to embrace your next rejection, in my opinion.

The writing life isn’t perfect it’s one big lesson and getting rejected is a part of the curriculum.

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