Thursday, February 4, 2021

Writing Rejection Doesn't Mean Writing Reject

by Lynn H. Blackburn @LynnHBlackburn

Rejection stinks.

It hurts. 

I hate it.

And I deal with it all.the.time.


Now that I have your attention, I should warn you that this won’t be a feel good post. It’s more of a tough love, buckle up, this is how it really is kind of post. 


So, let’s talk about rejection. Yay! (Not!)

As a rule, rejection is something we avoid. 


As a suspense writer, I will tell you that I *can* come up with a few scenarios where rejection would be a beautiful thing. Say, for example, if a serial killer rejected you as his next victim. That would be good. Or a drug kingpin rejected you as a mule. Also, a positive. Or say a criminal on the run decides to reject the car you’re driving as his preferred vehicle for an imminent carjacking. Hallelujah.


But once you rule out the horrific stuff, most people would prefer to go through life without experiencing rejection on a regular basis. Unfortunately for you, the simple fact that you’re reading this post tells me that you are not someone who will be able to avoid lots of rejection.


Because you’re a writer. 


If you’re pursuing publication, rejection can take many forms.

You don’t win the contest you entered.

Your dream agent isn’t interested in representing you.

Your favorite author won’t mentor you. 

You receive feedback on your submission/contest entry that crushes you.


Here’s where the buckle up part for this post comes in….


Getting published does not mean an end to rejection. In fact, it means you have more opportunities to be rejected on a more public stage. 


How fun does this sound?

A national magazine reviews your book—and they don’t like it. So now it’s splashed all over the internet and maybe even put in print that your book stinks. 

The contests you enter? Everyone knows you entered, and they know you didn’t win. 

The feedback you receive on your work isn’t private anymore. Nope. Those one-star reviews detailing all the things you did wrong are right there on Amazon or Goodreads for anyone to read.


Now, here’s the tough love


If you can’t persevere in spite of rejection, you’ll never make it as a published author. Rejection comes with the territory. There is no writer good enough to never face it. You are not going to win every contest. You are not going to be everyone’s favorite writer, and some people will be very vocal about how much they dislike your writing.


With that in mind, it’s crucial that you learn the difference between a rejection and being a reject. 


Perhaps we need to pause for a little grammar lesson. It turns out that reject is both a verb and a noun. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary…


The verb form of reject means to refuse to accept, consider, submit to, take for some purpose, or use


The noun form of reject means rejected person or thing especially one rejected as not wanted, unsatisfactory, or not fulfilling requirements


Here’s the how it really is part of the post…


Just because someone rejects your work, that does not mean that you are a reject. I know it feels that way. Boy, how I know it. But you have to find the strength to know, deep in your core, that you are not a reject. 


This is a fine line, but it matters. It isn’t the rejection that determines the course of your career. It’s thinking that someone’s opinion of your work means that you, as a person, have been rejected, when that is not true. 


I’ll be real with you: My writing is personal. It is a reflection of me. It does hurt when someone doesn’t appreciate it. It’s impossible for me to make it impersonal. But that does not mean that when someone rejects my work, they are rejecting me. 


Can you see the distinction? In my experience, the writers who can are able to get a handle on rejection, absorb the hurt, process the pain, and then press on. 


The writers who can’t? I’m sorry, but they don’t make it. 


Many of us can handle the rejection of our work, even if we have to take a lot of it.

Few of us can carry on when we believe that we are a reject. 


I told you this wasn’t a feel good post. But it’s real.


The bottom line is that being a writer means feeling the sting of rejection in myriad ways. You can’t avoid it, and depending on your personality, you may feel it deeply. I’m not telling you to develop a thick skin or pretend it doesn’t hurt. 


I am suggesting that if you want to do this, make up your mind that no amount of rejection will ever convince you that you are a reject. 


If you can do that, then you’ve got a fighting chance.

I’m cheering for you!


Grace and peace,


Writing Rejection Doesn't Mean Writing Reject - @LynnHBlackburn on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Lynn H. Blackburn loves writing romantic suspense because her childhood fantasy was to become a spy, but her grown-up reality is that she's a huge chicken and would have been caught on her first mission. She prefers to live vicariously through her characters and loves putting them into all kinds of terrifying situations while she's sitting at home safe and sound in her pajamas! 

Lynn’s titles have won the Carol Award, the Selah Award, and the Faith, Hope, and Love Reader’s Choice Award. Her newest series kicks off in March 2021 with Unknown Threat, Book 1 in the Defend and Protect series. 

She is a frequent conference speaker and has taught writers all over the country. Lynn lives in South Carolina with her true love and their three children. You can follow her real life happily ever after by signing up for her newsletter at LYNNHBLACKBURN.COM and @LynnHBlackburn on BOOKBUB, FACEBOOK, TWITTER, PINTEREST, and INSTAGRAM.


  1. Lynn, such practical advice. Thanks!

  2. Lynn,

    Great article about something each of us face: rejection. Thank you. When it happens to me (and it does often), I think about Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen who were rejected 160 times for their Chicken Soup for the Soul books (which are now some of the bestselling titles in English). When they were rejected, they looked at each other and said, "Next." This one word moved them forward to the next opportunity, the next publisher and the next place to get their work into print.

    author of 10 Publishing Myths, Insights Every Author Needs to Succeed

  3. Thanks for your detailed explanations of rejection and reject. So helpful and meaningful for me. Thanks for sharing.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Thanks for the honesty. Better to know what we're facing before jumping in, right? My skin is getting thicker by the day. LOL