5 Lessons I Learned After Receiving A Scorching Rejection From An Editor
Consider this your writers wake up call
I'm a writer.
I've been writing at least two to three articles per week for several years. I have had my work published in several journals and magazines - some big ones. Notable ones.
Entrepreneur Magazine, Inc., The CrossFit Journal, and a few others.
But today, I woke up to two emails with rejections from publications that I really wanted to be featured in. Now, this is not the first time my articles have been rejected by publishers - in fact, it's happened in the past and more often than I care to count.
Did I just admit that?
But today was different than other days when this has happened before. Today didn't irk me as much as it used to. In fact, these rejections were actually teaching me something new about myself - about what kind of writer I am and want to be - and some of these lessons are pretty eye-opening and helpful.
So in case you're a writer, perhaps a soon-to-be writer, or just want to read about some dude who was rejected twice in a day, here are the biggest lessons I learned from receiving rejections from publishers about the writing work I submitted.
1. I learned that rejection is a part of the process
Pretty standard, right?
Everyone says that.
They say that you gotta be tough or that "the biz" will eat you alive.
Look, you're not going swimming with piranhas. You're writing. Maybe not very good at first, but you will improve with guidance, practice, and perseverance.
I learned that rejection is indeed a part of life, and it's not personal. If you're rejected, to move on, you have to look at your situation objectively.
We all need to deal with rejection at some point, whether we're trying out for the soccer team, interviewing for a job, or submitting a piece, we poured some soul into.
Rejection is part of the game.
2. I learned that it's essential to keep going, despite being rejected
Winston Churchill has a great quote about this. It's about never giving up, and it was uttered back in World War II days when Hitler and the Nazi war machine were tearing Europe apart limb by limb.
The good news is this.
You're not at war.
There is no Hitler.
A random hand grenade will not crash through your bedroom window and crump in the middle of the floor.
So seriously, ask yourself what un-godly reason would compel you to quit?
You should never give up, no matter what. Rejection may hurt at first; it does, but it's just a bump in the road, and there are always other opportunities for success.
Sometimes, you might need to go through a lot of rejection before you have that one piece that changes everything. But until then, that shouldn't discourage you from trying again and again.
3. I learned that there are always other opportunities out there for me
You want to know a secret?
Before the pandemic, I was not a full-time writer.
I was a freelancer looking to make my mark as a writer, passionate about what I was creating but never took that dive into making this my life.
The pandemic forced my hand. Can you believe it? As I write this, one of my writing revenue streams pulls in four figures per month. ONE of them.
Ironically, writing was the opportunity that smacked me upside the head, and I seized it as if my life depended on it.
What if you did the same?
Seized this opportunity like your life depended on it, I mean? What could happen?
We should never forget that there are more opportunities out there for us if we allow ourselves to "see".
4. I learned to be grateful for all the opportunities I've had so far
I realized that being rejected is often a window into finding something better, which makes me thankful for all the opportunities I've had in the past.
Sometimes I feel like my life is a writing tragedy because of how many times I've been rejected…ok, perhaps I'm a bit dramatic…but that's when I remember all the opportunities for success that have come my way. It makes me realize how fortunate I have been in the past.
And also hopeful for what the future still holds.
Look, if you're reading this and thinking, "yeah, but you've ALREADY published in some big mags. I'm brand new "…just remember this. I was new once too. And the opportunities I reflected on back when I had zero publications and lots of passion?
Well, that opportunity was knowing that I could write. I was so darn grateful to be of sound mind and spirit and to have the wisdom and clarity to know that if I just kept at it, my day would come.
And it did.
5. Rejection doesn't mean failure - it just means not right now
Rejection doesn't mean that your work isn't good enough or that you aren't talented. It just means that the editor/publisher has decided it wasn't the right time.
Generally speaking, of course.
Many of the best writers were rejected multiple times before they finally got published. Another secret.
There was this article I submitted. The editor sent me back some unpleasant remarks. I was kind of taken aback, kind of shocked at the borderline unprofessionalism.
The next day with fresh eyes, I read and re-read my piece.
I couldn't "see" what the editor saw.
Sent it in to a competitive publisher, and they not only loved it, but they put it front page, above the fold.
Rejection doesn't mean failure.
The final word
I can't tell you how many rejection letters I've received. It's been the norm for me since before my first book was ever published. But this is the publishing game, and if we don't have thick skin, it will be difficult to make it in this business.
The five lessons that I took from being rejected are these…
- I learned that rejection is a part of the process. But you're not swimming with piranhas.
- I learned that it's essential to keep going, despite being rejected
- I learned that there are always other opportunities out there for me
- I learned to be grateful for all the opportunities I've had so far
Rejection doesn't mean failure - it just means not right now
The final, final word
I lied. It was three rejection notices. Another one came in as I was writing this piece.