Rejection Deflection

rejected-stampRejection. It’s part of a writer’s life.

It happens. We put our work out there and end up hearing the words we dread.

“Your story lacks originality.”

“Your characters aren’t engaging.”

“We have all the [insert your sub-category] we need.”

Or we receive the form letter reply with no reason given at all.

I’m going to share three steps that can help us handle rejection:

  • React
  • Reflect
  • Rebound

Let’s look at the first step:


Realize that rejection happens. We can’t avoid it.

It hurts, so allow some time to react. Indulge in a few tears if that helps. I’m not saying to dwell on the rejection or throw a pity party, but realize you suffered a blow.

Allow yourself a reward for taking a risk.

  • Rent a movie.
  • Take a bubble bath.
  • Eat something yummy, like chocolate.

If action works better for you:

  • Go for a run.
  • Do some yard work.
  • Clean off your writing desk.

Maybe you’d rather talk things out.

  • Vent to an online writing partner.
  • Call an RWA chapter mate who can buoy you up.
  • Go to lunch with a supportive girlfriend who’s a great listener.

Cinnamon SticksIt can help to remember that just like the sweet smell of cinnamon, the pain of rejection only lasts a short time.

Once you’ve allowed yourself time to react, you’re ready to move on to step two:


Once the initial emotional response has passed, it’s time to look at the situation with objectivity.

Author James Lee Burke says, “There’s nothing like rejection to make you do an inventory of yourself.”

Begin by asking yourself what you did well. Look for the positives.

  • Did the agent/editor like your storytelling ability?
  • Did s/he compliment your snappy dialogue?

On the flip side, examine negative feedback with an open mind. See what you can learn from it.

  • Did the agent/editor help you identify a potential plot weakness?
  • Did s/he suggest you read a book on character development?

After you’ve reflected on the comments you received and learned all you can about your strengths and weaknesses, you’re ready for step three.


Now it’s time to get back to the serious business of writing.

Young multimillionaire, author, and Distinguished Toastmaster Bo Bennett says,
“A rejection is nothing more than a necessary step in the pursuit of success.”

It’s important to remember that only losers avoid rejection. You may be afraid to try again, but anxiety can be an ally, helping you to perform better.

One yes erases a lot of no’s.

Set small goals. Say to yourself:

  • I’ll send out one query this week.
  • I’ll read one book on craft this month.
  • I’ll start that new story I’ve been thinking about.

Woman with $50 billAnother technique you can try is to use reverse psychology to turn rejection into a positive.

Ask a trusted friend to hold onto a $50 bill and not return it until you’ve suffered an agreed upon number of rejections. That way you’ll be more willing to endure them.

In spite of the pain you endure when turned down, don’t stop trying. Rebound from rejection, give it another go, and you’ll be on your way to more successes.

In closing, the next time you hear those words, “No, thanks. We’re not interested in your manuscript” remember the three steps to rejection deflection:

  • React
  • Reflect
  • Rebound

You’ve succeeded at endeavors you’ve undertaken in the past, and I know you will again. After all, you’re creative, clever, courageous people up to a challenge.

You’re romance writers!

• • •

How do you deal with rejection? How long does it take before you’re ready to put fingers to keyboard again after receiving bad news? What techniques do you find most helpful to move beyond the pain and embrace the possibilities yet to come?

About Keli Gwyn

I'm an award-winning author of inspirational historical romance smitten with the Victorian Era. I'm currently writing for Harlequin's Love Inspired Historical line of wholesome, faith-filled romances. My debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, was released July 1, 2012. I'm represented by Rachelle Gardner of Book & Such Literary. I live in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierras. My favorite places to visit are my fictional worlds, other Gold Country towns and historical museums. When I'm not writing I enjoy taking walks, working out at Curves™ and reading.
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4 Responses to Rejection Deflection

  1. Sue Mason says:

    Hi Keli,

    Wonderful article. I still haven’t learned how to cope with rejection well. But you have given me some good advice which I will try to remember.

    Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas!


  2. Lynn Rush says:

    Great post!!! The advice is helpful.

    I hope you have a fantastic Christmas.

  3. Anne Barton says:

    Keli, I’m lucky to have a CP (that would be *you*) who offers sympathy and encouragement whenever I need it. 🙂 Thank you!

    I agree rejections help us grow as writers, and they can be really motivating. Thanks for the great suggestions.

    Merry Christmas, everyone.

  4. Hmmm, I like the whole “venting” thing. Esp. since I eat chocolate no matter what. LOL
    These are some great steps, Keli. Even though rejections hurt, I do like them because they mean I’m moving. I’m pursuing. 🙂

    Great post! Now I’m going to go read the other one, since I missed it in all the christmas chaos! 🙂

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