Rejection: Coping with Disappointment

 Artwork: Maybe by Sean McCann

Last week, I had a particularly horrific interview for a PhD. By the time I’d recovered from the shock of being annihilated by a seemingly friendly academic panel and bought close to my weight in books to console myself, I was left wondering:

Why can I shrug off writing disappointments more easily than others?

Then I remembered the first rejection I got, the way I kept the little postcard on my desk and sulked about it for weeks. I wasn’t born taking things in my stride. So, what are the best ways to cope with rejection, the only constant of the writing life?


1. Get used to it.

Sounds harsh, I know. But even the best and most prolific writers get rejections. Sometimes your work just isn’t the right fit.

2. Use it.

Rejection sucks–it’s that simple. But it can be  a great learning opportunity. Was the formatting wrong? Could your cover letter have been better? Learn from these mistakes so you don’t make them again, then move on.

3. Don’t take it personally.

It’s hard not to see your writing as an extension of yourself. But, as an old teacher of mine said, “I criticize the writing, not the writer.” Remove yourself from your work, and the sting of rejection is lessened.

The most important thing for me, is to enjoy the journey. Rejection, ultimately, leads to acceptance.


Helen Dring is a fiction writer from Liverpool, England. She is studying for an MA in Creative Writing and is currently writing her first novel. She likes fairy tales, ghost stories and modern history.

2 comments to Rejection: Coping with Disappointment

  • Marquita

    This is a truly helpful and inspiring post. One I will refer to when I’m feeling down. Thanks!

  • Good advice and yes, you do have to get used to it. I would say, that writers are sensitive souls and at times, rejections can sting. I’ve had hundreds of rejections and every now and then , they still hurt, but you must remember how many people are making submissions these days, so it’s going to happen. A lot.
    But then, occasionally, you get one through and it makes success even sweeter.

    Just don’t give up.

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