Fear and Rejection


A recent post on Mewie’s blog got me to thinking about fear and specifically how it pertains to the writing journey. There are a lot of things to be afraid of when embarking on this path, but I suspect that the most pervasive among writers is the fear of rejection.

rejection-letter2 In order to be a published writer, we have to face the facts: we will receive rejections. Probably a lot. Like, dozens. Writers get rejected. That’s just the way of it. Stephen King received over 30 rejections before Carrie was picked up. James Patterson collected more than 25 rejections before finally being published in 1976. The first Harry Potter book was passed around for a year amongst different publishers before Bloomsbury Publishing took a chance on it.Knowing all this, however, doesn’t make reading that rejection letter easy. And it doesn’t make sending out that next submission seem very appealing. But we still need to send it out. We can’t let the fear override the ambition we have and the desire to be published.

How to deal with that fear and get the submissions into the mail? For me, I just keep in mind that I only really have to make one decision that will take about 5 seconds and that’s it. The only decision I have to wrestle with is putting that envelope into the mailbox or clicking ‘Send’ on that e-mail. Once I’ve done either of those two things, it’s done. It’s over, I have no more control and I have to just accept whatever happens. It’s like skydiving. Once you’re all rigged up and in the plane, the only decision you have to make is to take that step out. Once you’ve done it, you’re committed. 😉

So that’s how I get over the fear of submitting my work. And how do I deal with the rejections? Well, really it’s just rationalization to make me feel better, but it works, so I use it! My belief is that there’s a certain, finite number of rejections between me and the acceptance that’s waiting for me. Each rejection I receive is one more that’s out of the way!

Do you experience fear of submitting your work? Are you afraid of rejection? How do you cope with that, as an aspiring (or published) writer?

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  • Reply
    robert bourne
    February 23, 2008 at 3:02 pm

    I like your view..rejection is the bogeyman in some respects somethign you have to batle through

  • Reply
    JEMi @ InMyHeels
    February 23, 2008 at 6:02 pm

    I absolutely experience that fear of rejection. So much I’ve avoided being an English major just to avoid professors Red-penning my heart away. 1) for some reason they’re approval means so much to me 2) Meaningful C’s dont look good for med school

    Thankfully I have been experiencing a growth and confidence in my writing and in myself. I actually wrote an article on InMyHeels –


    I think it may help with this *wonderful* posting of yours

    rejection is scary. at least to me. But i try not to allow fear to stall me from progress.

  • Reply
    February 23, 2008 at 6:02 pm

    Rejection is just one of the many things you have to overcome as a writer. It helps to think of it as a learning experience and something that is overcome with persistence.

    I like to think of the rejection notes I’ve got as proof that I’m taking the steps I need to to get to where I desire- rejection is a constant part of a writers life.

  • Reply
    February 23, 2008 at 11:02 pm

    I was just talking to my wife about how inspired I am to have connected with you. Without a doubt, I’m deeply inspired to commit further to writing my novel.

    BTCassidy’s approach to rejection is an excellent idea. Another way I see failure/rejection is that it makes success that much sweeter when it happens.

    We gotta keep moving ahead – honing our skills, improving our work, and ultimately, cross that finish line. If we give up now, we’ll never know if we ever had a shot in something that can become a reality.

  • Reply
    February 24, 2008 at 1:02 am

    Good article. Overcoming fear is very important. If you treat it like a numbers game, i.e., if you expect a certain percentage of attempts that will work out you should attempt more to increase your chances of success. Or like you said…a rejection is just getting one out of the way.

  • Reply
    February 24, 2008 at 5:02 am

    Great article, My Inspiration comes from rejection..the more you get rejections the closer you are getting to your success. English is not my native language therefore i get more rejections in many instances probably but if i look that way i won’t learn instead i look up to those that are already into many rejections and get the inspiration.

    “To be successful we need to get through failures”

    I love you articles by the way…thanks for dropping aswell 😀

  • Reply
    February 24, 2008 at 10:02 am

    Oh, yes–the fear. I have three novels 3/4 of the way finished. I can’t bring myself to finish them because that would mean that someone else would have to read them. Too terrifying for words.

  • Reply
    Ann Clemmons
    February 24, 2008 at 7:02 pm

    I think the fear never leaves, but for me, the more I research the publisher, and if I’ve written a query letter, the less personal the submission process feels. Just from reading a publishers guidelines you realize more about what kind of books they’re looking for and how many they publish a year, etc… So you will get an idea of whether they’re going to like your manuscript or not… I guess I’m going a long way around the barn to say that just because you get a “rejection” letter doesn’t mean your book is not good or you’re not talented- It can mean a million things that have nothing to do with your work, like the market, how many they publish a year, etc… So I guess, the more research I do the less fearful I am.

    I also liked what you said, “there’s a certain, finite number of rejections between me and the acceptance that’s waiting for me. Each rejection I receive is one more that’s out of the way!”

    Except for your use of the word rejection. I hate that word~

    Writing is an art, but it is also a business, that’s something else I try to remember- and it’s also subjective, what one person loves another person might not like at all…and editors are people- it’s just too bad they’re such busy people.

    Great post~ And I love your site~


    A Nice Place In The Sun

    P.S. And thanks for placing a Entrecard on my site. I became so involved in your post, I forgot to tell you. 🙂

  • Reply
    February 24, 2008 at 11:02 pm

    At the risk of sounding like a big old show-off, I have only submitted two ideas to people so far, and both with surprisingly positive results.

    The first was The Carrotty Kid, a proposal for a kid’s cartoon that got picked up by an animation studio and everything (before running into trouble later on in the process), and the second was a proposal for a Lord Likely book, which I sent to a smaller publisher last year and which I had a meeting about just before Christmas. So that’s two for two, so far. Good odds, especially considering I don’t know what I’m doing half the time.

    However, I do still get nervous that my next idea will flop like a soggy baguette. I think it’s only a natural fear which grips us all.

    And as Stephen King proved, sometimes the rejected get the last laugh.

  • Reply
    Martha Alderson
    February 26, 2008 at 12:02 am

    Sometimes it feels like every time we put ourselves out there — in queries, blogs, stage, or t.v. — we face possible rejection. Because rejection, the other side of acceptance, is so universal it seems as if it holds a powerful lesson. The art of detachment. How does one achieve it when riddled with the very real human emotions of not being good enough, or smart enough, or lucky enough……….

    Thanks for your comment on:

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