Dealing with rejection is part of being a writer. Every writer who clicks publish on a blog post, sends in an article for consideration at a publication, or pursues the publication of a book is going to face it sooner or later.
The question is, how do we deal with it when it happens?
I propose that as Christian writers, we have a significant advantage when it comes to dealing with rejection. How so?
Because we have the King of Kings on our side.
No, that doesn’t meant that everything we submit for publication will be automatically accepted or that we’ll never face negative criticism. Not at all.
What it does mean is that it shifts our perspective from that of the world. It means that when we do receive rejection letters or negative, hurtful comments about our writing, we don’t need to take it personally.
Our identity in Christ is not shaped or affected by the opinions of others. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31b)
Receiving a rejection letter can be incredible disheartening. I can even be enough to make us want to give up. But that’s exactly what the enemy would want us to do.
Our job as Christian writers is to be faithful to the task set before us. It’s to be faithful in using the gifts we’ve been given, to the glory of God.
When the rejection letter comes, take a few moments or perhaps a few days to acknowledge the sadness and disappointment. Then ask God for help to keep going, and try again. Not for your own pride or accolades, but in obedience to the One who calls you to the work.
In his post, Rejecting Rejection, author James Scott Bell gives a number of helpful points about dealing with rejection. He concludes with this:
“What it came down to was one simple concept: persistence. That’s the only “trick.” Keep writing, soak it in prayer, and reject rejection. Someday you’ll break through.”
His advice reminds me of Romans 5:3-4 — “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”
Let the rejection letters do their work — let them strengthen your perseverance, your character, and your hope.
Award-winning author Kate diCamillo recently shared this Facebook post on her experience with dealing with rejection letters:
When I started sending stories out into the world, I got a lot of rejection letters back.
Most of the rejections were just form letters.
But every once in awhile, someone would include a personal note.
It is impossible to overstate just how much those notes from a real, live person mattered.
They gave me courage, hope.
They made me feel like a writer.
So, in the (never-ending) process of sorting through things in the basement, I found this missive from C. Michael Curtis at the Atlantic Monthly.
Reading it now, twenty years later, it still fills me with hope and courage, and also gratitude to Mr. Curtis for taking the time to write to me.
He ends his letter with the words “Will you try us again?”
I love that.
I will try again.
All you writers out there: keep going. Do not give up. Try again.
Here’s some helpful advice from two members of the Five Minute Friday community:
“When the sting of rejection hits me, I practice two things: self-care, and right thinking. The former means I give myself space to cry and rage (how dare they?!), text a couple good friends who love me well, and step away from social media for a time to give my soul a break.
Then I remind myself what is true: I write not to prove my worth, earn others’ favor, or gain something I don’t already have. It is stewardship of what God has given me. He will use what I offer for His glory, in His ways, for my good. Rejection is part of the process; it means I’m trying. I only fail if I quit. I’m encouraged by Brene Brown, who said, ‘Falling hurts. The dare is to keep being brave and feel your way back up.’ So I keep going.”
Gina writes at Awakened. Find her on Twitter and Facebook.
“Rejection’s sting doesn’t feel as poisonous when I remind myself of why I write. My simplified mission statement for writing is to glorify God. Because of that, I can view my work as seeds thrown into the wind of obedience, as I trust God to plant the words where He wants them to grow. He knows where to allow the words to flourish, so they meet the heart that needs to hear them. This alleviates the pressure by transforming it into simple faith aware of God’s sovereignty. By all means I hone my craft so that I become a better writer, but ultimately I must respond to rejection with rest.”
Subscribe to rediscover the motivation to write, plus get our latest updates via email.
My secret is basically the same as Gina’s and Chara’s. I remember that it is God who exalts. He never promises a certain level of success. He just requires us to be obedient to what He has called us to do. It’s His job to make the end result happen the way He plans. We must only surrender and accept His plan for us, even if it looks a little different than we would like.
Amen! Thank you for sharing, Carol!
God’s timing on this post, Kate. Thank you. RIght now, as I’m deep in my novel-writing, I have yet to experience those sure-to-come rejections. (I’ve had plenty of rejections but just not with this new fiction adventure!) But oh my. It’s the fear of rejection that stops me in my tracks on some days. What if this is really really bad? What if nobody wants it? All this work. Sigh. Makes me want to throw my hands up and just go read a beautifully written book and say I could never write that way. Your words remind me that the enemy is at work here. I love James Scott Bell’s words to “keep writing and soak it in prayer.” I’d modify your thoughtful reminder to read, “let the fear of rejection letters do its work . . . ” Pressing on in prayer. Giving myself grace. Trusting.
I understand, Beth! Thank you for sharing! Glad this was an encouragement to you. Keep trusting! 🙂
This was a good read, Kate.
My secret? I’m still learning, but one thing I hold onto is that God has not tasked me with writing about subjects that are “mainstream.” Sure, it’d be easy to bang out yet another gentle Amish novel, but that’s not my job. I have to be true to the gifts and calling He’s given me.
Great reminders in this post. When I start to doubt or feel the sting of rejection, I go to Amazon and read one-star reviews of books I love by authors I respect. It reminds me that there are always going to be critics, but that there are also those who God knows need to read what He has called me to write.
Ha! Love it, Linda! Great perspective.
Kate, I used to collect my rejection letters in a digital folder or my wallet. It became exhaustive. So I deleted, threw out those form letters that really didn’t need me, as I didn’t need them. For what?
But then I decided to change my perspective, of the likes that Kate DiCamillo mentioned. I kept the awesome rejection letters in a folder titled Awesome Rejections. I have them tucked away where I can see them when I feel like it. I don’t throw a pity party other than to tell my family about it. “I got a rejection from XYZ today.” And that is all. There’s no more needed to do or say as it’s futile to dwell on it, to ruminate on that story or essay or poem that could’ve found a home in XYZ publication.
Instead, I rejoice in the door that closes, as I know it is not meant for my work. I rejoice in the opportunity to be featured in the publications that see my work as significant for their readership. I edit a homeschool contest and believe me, it’s not easy from the editorial standpoint to reject a submission. It really is subjective and I understand now after countless efforts to move on and leave the door closed where it may.
Thanks for this post. I have much to be thankful for. It’s always wonderful to see where the writing leads, where God will put it to rest.
Thank you so much for sharing this, Erendira! Clearly you understand from many perspectives! Many blessings to you as you continue to both knock on doors and hold doors open for others. 🙂
I can’t say I’ve ever dealt with rejection, not to say I haven’t been rejected. One reason might be I didn’t have a solid base for loving or valuing myself. Another maybe when I felt a compelling call I would always pray Lord if this is you open the door and if it’s not close it. In all honesty I probably hoped more to be rejected than accepted because when the door was open I knew three things were true: 1) it is God’s invitation 2) I would eventually have to surrender to the yes, as long as I kept praying his will and not mine, 3) I’d have to accept the reality of my gift and weigh my qualities and learn to celebrate them, this has always been harder for me than rejection. Perhaps I wasn’t strong enough to endure the responsibility that comes with acceptance, but God…
From these three it may have been away out. Oh well; it’s God’s will, see I told you I’m not suppose to write, don’t blame me. A form of denial? Maybe!
I have to say I love need and embrace Gina’s share. I have to remind myself daily to be real genuine and honest with myself for at first it’s self-care, and than self love until something amazing happens I learn to love and accept myself with a true realization that not only is it ok but it is necessary.
I think like the other comments that it is God calling us to a place of rest and quietness with him, to prepare us for the next adventure (Is 30:15)
So we may be writers like the prophets ready to climb the high mountains, overly energized, excited to share and be shared by learning with one another. High expectations, oh my. We may win the race with our enthusiasm but if rejection didn’t come first our followers that did make it to the high mountains with us would drop out of mere exhaustion, and there we stand dumbfounded disheartened and may even cry out Lord my God, they didn’t get to see this amazing view and once again we are left standing alone with a view, but we need one another to share, love, embrace and celebrate. Togetherness, community there isn’t another like it. So I must persevere embrace the words slow balance, and oh yes your feelings matter and have every right to be acknowledged. Lord help me to learn and than be and than work on your time frame. For you are the author and finisher of my faith. I see myself as a penned secretary for the Holy Spirit, but it is he that gives us the freedom to express ourselves in all it’s uniqueness, a gift truly given to us by him, something fabulous that must be shared if no one else but you and him, or to all ends of the Earth. Yes he is sovereign, but Nancy don’t forget you are human, you are cherished by me, and love by being true to yourself first. For your health I have surrendered that responsibility and choice over to you. Yes Lord and I am still learning; help me to be faithful and true for I am dependent solely on you, but I offer up deep prayerful expressions of gratitude for all of them (fmf-community of writers).
Bless us all as we surrender all to Jesus, for in this my soul is well!!!