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.”
“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.”
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