how writers can overcome rejection: what to do and what to not do

How to overcome rejection: what writers should and should not do next

mindset rejection

No writer likes to receive a rejection.

Firstly, it feels horrible. And secondly, many writers can very quickly go from: "I received a rejection" to "I can't write, I'm never going to make it, I don't know what I'm doing, my work sucks, why am I doing so much worse than everyone else..."

This thought spiral is super common and it is TOTALLY UNNECESSARY.

Sometimes the work you send out isn't ready and so yes, the rejection is a reflection of that. And in that case, it just means that the work needs more time or you need to spend more time on your craft. There's nothing wrong with this. This is, in fact, unavoidable.


Sometimes the only thing between a "yes" and a "no" is another draft


Precisely zero great writers were born being able to write an amazing book (in fact, I've heard most babies can't even write their name??)

And exactly zero books have been written without a truly terrible first draft. And a terrible second draft, and sometimes even a terrible third and fourth draft. Sometimes the only thing between a yes and a no is another draft.

So if you receive a rejection and you suspect it's because the writing is not quite there yet then rest assured that this is a normal thing that happens to all writers. The best thing to do in this case is think of the rejection as a piece of data.



But the quality of the work is only one small part of a much broader set of metrics by which agents and editors evaluate work. Market trends, personal taste, list balancing, budgetary constraints, and even something as seemingly insignificant as a hunch can all weigh in on whether any given piece of work gets accepted at any given time.


Remember to prioritize facts over conjecture


When you receive a rejection the best thing you can do is to stick to the facts.


  • I sent work out somewhere which is evidence that I am trying
  • It was not accepted this time and [unless there was specific feedback] I don't know why 



The following are not facts. These are things you literally cannot know from one (or even many) rejections:

  • I can't write
  • My work has no merit
  • I am never going to achieve my goals
  • This work will never be good


If you want to be published, you have to put yourself out there. If you put yourself out there, you WILL get rejected. This career path includes many more "no"s than "yes"s. Most of the time you will not know why your work was rejected. You cannot control most of the factors at play (market trends, individual taste). But there are two things you can control:

  • Whether or not you show up
  • Whether or not you work hard

The rest is a waste of your time. So next time you get a rejection and you find yourself spiralling out, try to stick to the facts.



Being a writer is a tough gig. But it is totally possible to do hard things (like finish your manuscript or get rejections) without sinking into a torpor. We launched Boola Bos to help writers eradicate these all too common but not at all necessary thought patterns.

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