Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Rejections – The Fuel to Writing Success

by Cindy K. Sproles @CindyDevoted

I spent some quality time with a new writer. She’d gotten her first rejection letter from a publisher and as hard as it was for her to put on a brave face, I could see how the rejection hurt. 

It happens to us all. Frustration sets in, a sense of unworthiness. Perhaps I’m not as good as I thought reels through our minds. All the roots of “failure” sink into fertile grounds of our minds making the perfect situation to believe a lie.

“Maybe I just need to skip the writing part and just be a speaker.” She said.

“Uh, no! This is a stepping stone, so step.”

Rejection, whether as a writer or any other place marker in our life, stills stings. I’ve had my share. It can turn our lives and our hearts inside out. I could hear the sense of loss and disappointment in this writer’s voice. And I couldn’t fix it.

The first rule of thumb when facing rejection is never give up. You don’t stop working to improve just because one said no. That’s not a free card to quit.  No sir. Let the words of rejection fuel your success. Allow those words to be what spurs you ahead to make necessary changes and improvements.

When I failed as a teen, I remember Mom sharing her pickle comparison. How do pickles compare to writing rejections? Stick with me.

“Anything worth doing takes time and practice. It’s never perfect every time. I’ve followed the recipe to the exact step and still had my pickles ruin. My point is, making pickles takes practice. The sooner you learn that about your failures, the better a person you will become.” Mom was wise. In fact, at 93 she still throws that comparison at me and she’s still right.

I’ve stood over the kitchen counter slicing cucumbers until my fingers were numb. I’ve poked pint jars full of long slices of juicy cucumbers then anticipated the sweet taste to come. But pickles don’t become pickles overnight. It’s a long process, and just like life, it takes time to “make”. 

There are steps to making nice, crunchy pickles. Learning to hone the process and wait for the result, takes time. Should we miss a step or fudge (which, by the way is something else that is a process), then our pickles fail.

I’ve watched my mother throw out cans of pickles because they spoiled instead of pickling. She’d grow frustrated and wonder if she’d lost her skill – then out would come the recipe where she’d pour over each step, locating what she did wrong or better yet, what she could do better. The process for successful pickles, required Mom backtracking and evaluating her steps. It wasn’t long before she’d make improvements. It was like a light came on and she became determined to succeed. When the next batch was ready, the brine was poured over the cucumbers, and cans sealed and placed on a shelf  “to make,” Mom was ready for success.  And how sweet the taste of success is when the pickles are right.

Forrest Gump coined an infamous phrase. “Life is like a box of chocolates,” but I say,  Life is like making pickles. It sometimes requires a do over. Success takes practice and honing. Waiting is a valuable part of the process. We must wait for the words to “make,” then when we can pop the seal on the jar and pull out a nice crunchy pickle (i.e. story). Now it’s a moment to savor.

When rejection or failed attempts plague you, pull out the recipe and hone the work. Allow your rejections to fuel the determination to become a better writer. The next batch may just be the perfect pickle.

Rejections – The Fuel to Writing Success - @CindyDevoted on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Cindy K. Sproles is an author, speaker, and conference teacher. She is the cofounder of ChristianDevotions.us and the executive editor of ChristianDevotions.us and InspireaFire.com. Cindy is the managing editor for Straight Street Books and SonRise Devotionals, both imprints of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. She is an award-winning and best-selling author and the director of the Asheville Christian Writers Conference. Visit Cindy at www.cindysproles.com. @cindydevoted


  1. Hi Cindy - while this blog focused on the process, it was the “stepping stone” line that created a clear visual for me (possibly because I've never made pickles).
    Many times, however, I’ve stood on a stone in the middle of a creek knowing the next step is doable; but still, looking at all the rushing water around my chosen path is making me nervous. Sometimes I look behind to see if it’s easier to go back - but there’s no adventure in going back!
    Thanks for something to think about today. :)

  2. Well said Ms. Cindy! To all the pickle-pickling people in the world, "Never give up." One of my most inspirational cartoons bear those very words. It a cartoon of a half-swallowed frog whose legs are tightly wrapped around the heron's throat so it can't swallow. Never give up!

  3. I don't like rejections but I always learn something to help me for future projects. :-)

  4. Thanks for the timely analogy and pickle pickling story, Cindy. :0

  5. I think I love your mama. And you for sharing her wisdom in such a practical, no-nonsense way. Thank you, friend. Write on!