Writing Through Rejection

Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.”–Michael Jordan

I don’t know how the rest of you feel about having a piece of your writing rejected, but I find it invigorating. Instead of feeling down, I take it as a challenge to write something better. It’s my motivation, my drive.

I’m not the kind of guy who sits around and wonders why certain editors rejected certain stories. It’s their job to find stories they believe will be the best fit for them, their anthology. Subjectivity is a very real beast. Certain editors may love something another couldn’t run away from fast enough. It’s the nature of the business.

Through my writing journey I’ve learned not to take anything personally. Critiques, rejection letters, or anything many other writers generally consider in a negative light. Each step of the writing process has positives if we’re willing to look. We have to be open to anything that can improve our writing, even rejection.

Writing isn’t easy. Each of us is left to our own devices and must find our own way. Some will succeed while others will fail.

Nothing is more humbling than falling flat on your face. You can either lay there and wallow in your misery, or you can learn from your mistakes and push forward.

I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.”–Michael Jordan

I’m a sports fan and many of the all-time greats held a desire to be the best. They were uber competitive. Michael Jordan immediately comes to mind. He worked tirelessly to be the best player he could be and always felt there was room for improvement. He would look for things, didn’t matter how small, and would challenge himself to improve.

As writers we’ve got to find the same kind of desire for improvement.

Michael Jordan was demoted from his high school basketball team to the JV squad as a sophomore. He could have thrown in the towel, given up. Good thing for basketball fans he didn’t. He used that rejection to fuel his competitive fire. He worked day and night tirelessly improving his skills. Eventually he got to the point where his skills were undeniable and no coach would question them again.

Writing will challenge even the most positive people. There will be days when we wonder if we’re good enough, if writing is worth the trouble anymore. Maybe a critique hit a little harder than it should have, maybe we’re feeling crushed under the weight of  three million literary agent rejection letters, or maybe your latest short story failed to make it into an anthology. Rejection, in whatever form, tends to sting some.

If we take a step back and look objectively, we’ll understand that rejection is a valid part of the writing process. How we handle it is what matters.

Challenge yourself to get better. Improve your writing skills until others have to take notice. Evolve your writing skills until they’re undeniable.

I choose to see each rejection letter as an opportunity taken, another connection made. Even though things didn’t work out the way I would have liked, an editor/agent took the time to read something I created. How cool is that? Sometimes connections are formed in ways we may not see/understand at first glance.

My point is rejection only hurts as much as we allow it to. I don’t see rejection in a negative light anymore. It’s all a normal part of the writing process.

Besides, we can’t control other people’s tastes. All we can control is how well we write. If we create the kind of fiction we’d love to read and are passionate about those same stories, eventually the right people will take notice. Trust that somewhere out there someone will love our stories just as much as we do. If that’s not motivation for writing, I don’t know what is.

As long as we understand how difficult breaking into publishing can be, and we constantly strive to improve, we’ll get there eventually. We must keep writing. Quitting will only deprive the world of our awesome stories. Keep improving. Keep writing. Make the publishing world take notice. It can be done. Bookstores are full of books written by people just like us.

Don’t think about what may, or may not, come. Just do it.

I never looked at the consequences of missing a big shot…when you think about the consequences you always think of a negative result.”–Michael Jordan



  1. “If I had thought about it, I wouldn’t have done the experiment. The literature was full of examples that said you can’t do this.”
    Spencer Silver said this, referring to his creation of the adhesive they use on sticky notes.

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