How to Handle #Rejection – 20 Tips!

A writer-friend asked me the other day how I handle rejection. What a great topic for a blog, I thought!

Over the years, I’ve developed a fantastic set of tactics to handle rejection, so I thought I’d share them with you…

PLEASE NOTE: these tactics don’t always work, but they sure do help!

ALSO: while I use the collective word ‘story’, these tips can apply to short stories, novels, poems, plays, scripts, non-fiction or any other creative writing endeavour. Good luck!

  1. Focus on your progression as a writer. Are you closer to your ‘dream writing lifestyle’ than you were this time last year? If the answer is yes, then this rejection is just a blip. Keep going!
  2. Remember that every story has its rightful home. Once this story has found its home, the rejections you’ve received en route will simply slip into insignificance.
  3. Think about why your story might not have been accepted this time. It could be anything from mismatched themes or personal preference, to economic viability or bad timing. What does your gut say? You may have even received some feedback. By finding something to improve in the story, you’ll give yourself some focus, as well as hope.
  4. Where to next? Before sending off a submission, always know where you’ll be sending that story next should it get rejected. Having a back-up plan before you receive a rejection will soften the blow.
  5. Wine will help. Or beer. Or spirits. But not all at the same time. Alternately is fine. (In moderation of course!)
  6. Tell yourself that you didn’t want to be published there anyway! Find a flaw, a reason, anything to convince yourself that you’re better off without that publisher/backer for your story. In a way, it’s true. If they don’t love your story enough to see past the risk of publishing it, then your story is better off without them. Your story deserves a platform and a backer that will champion it whole-heartedly to the world.
  7. Chocolate helps too. (In moderation of course!)
  8. Re-read your opening paragraph – you’ll be surprised at how good this will make you feel. You’re a good writer. It’s a good story. You just need to keep going. It will find its rightful home!
  9. Consider yourself lucky that your story wasn’t accepted this time, because of course you’re so busy with your current story you wouldn’t have time to deal with the success anyway. In fact, you’re so deep in the world of your next story, that you don’t even have the time to feel bothered by the rejection.
  10. Phone a friend! Publishing industry friends are the best because they know just how hard it is out there.
  11. Socializing with those who know little-to-nothing about your writing career is good too. Take a break from things. It will give you some perspective.
  12. Alternatively, stay away from people! Sometimes when you want to offload your problems by talking them through, people run a mile. That will only make you feel worse!
  13. Play some good music. Uplifting tracks will make you feel invincible. Alternatively, play miserable music and wallow in it for a while. Once you’re bored of being miserable, you’ll feel ready to tackle the submission process again.
  14. Keep in mind that there are more important things in life than the acceptance of your story. Your health and your family are two of them. Be grateful for what you have of each. Many writers don’t have as much as that. Next week, you might lose some of the good fortune you’re currently taking for granted, then you’ll wish you hadn’t moped over that silly rejection for as long as you did.
  15. Forget that you sent the submission. Obviously keep a record somewhere, but then forget about it. That way, when you receive a rejection, it won’t matter to you!!
  16. Hugs help.
  17. See it as an achievement! The Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild have a competition among members to see who can generate the most rejections in a calendar year. Maybe you could try getting more rejections this year than you did last year? At least that way you can be sure your work gets out there.
  18. Have a cry, or go punch something (whichever suits your personality). Once you’ve cleared out all that negative emotion, you’ll be able to see the rejection from a business perspective. Publishing is a business, so a rejection doesn’t necessarily mean your story is rubbish! Find a publisher who sees your story not as a risk but for the opportunity it presents.
  19. See the rejection as training for once you’re famous. You’ll need a much thicker skin when you’re constantly in the public eye, so the more practice you get now the better.
  20. Chin up and on you go – sometimes it’s that simple. Don’t worry, be happy. It’s them not you. They’re not worth it. Forget about it. Every cloud has a silver lining. The road to success is paved with failure – you’re busy paving yours.
Don't give up!

Don’t give up!

Most of all – don’t give up.

Don’t take any rejection personally.

You’ll get there one day!

So just suck it up and move forward.

…Now that’s how you handle rejection! Good luck my friends!

Zena Shapter

I write from a castle in a flying city hidden by a thundercloud. #Ditmar Award-winning author. Movie buff. Traveller. Wine lover. Story nerd. Book Creator & Mentor. Founder & leader of the award-winning Northern Beaches Writers' Group / ZF Kingbolt.


  1. Great tips.

    Sometimes you need some external “oomph”. This is one of the best motivational videos I’ve ever seem. Designed for swimmers, but it works for anything.

    • It’s between you and the grind… For you, the laws of physics are just a suggestion… love it, Tony!! Thank you for sharing – I think I’ll start watching that every time I sit down to write 🙂

  2. Thanks @acutemattiosis (aka Matthew J Morrison) on Twitter for reminding me of this fab 90s British anarcho-punk track by Chumbawamba about rejection… “I get knocked down, but I get up again”:

    Let’s sing it together!

    [Be warned: watch the clip, and you’ll be humming it all day!!]

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