Positive Writer

Writing through doubt and fear, and you can, too!

How Writers Can Deal With and Overcome Rejection

Sometimes I sit here staring at the blank screen unable to create. It begs for a word or two, any words will do.

The loss of words, of a will to write, can be so unbearable.

Have you ever experienced the hurt that comes with rejection, feeling that what you are creating doesn’t matter, that it’s pointless and no one cares?

Cathedral of Trier

A few days ago I wrote about creating an eBook that will go viral and I shared with you that my first eBook was downloaded over 100,000 times, but there’s more.

I would be remiss if I did not share with you more of the story, the latest part that could perhaps make any of us, at least for a moment, consider giving up.


I talked with my agent the other day and she let me know that so far there were no takers (traditional publishers) and one clear rejection for the extended edition of my popular free eBook.

At first I wasn’t too worried about it, but after contemplating a bit too much I got carried away in my own head wondering why.

I enjoy self-publishing and I’ve experienced success doing it and that was my first inclination, but I thought for sure with so much interest in the eBook that it would be a snap to traditionally publish an extended edition.

Perhaps I thought wrong?

This led me to a deep moment of doubt and to believe that I just don’t “get it”.

What’s the point?

But that’s not the worst of it; the worst is that I got a deep, dispassionate feeling inside that made me ask the most dangerous question of all:

“What’s the point?”

That’s a dangerous question and can lead to losing one’s enthusiasm, the desire to write at all and stopping.

I think it is interesting that I wrote in the previous post that if no one else cared, at least I do. And that’s true, but let me be open and honest, I am not immune to the discouraging feelings that rejection brings. Is anyone?

So I sat there at my desk, staring at the monitor and the blank page, wondering what it is all about, asking myself that dreadful question, trying to figure it out.

“What’s the point?” The question echoed in my head.

Fresh perspective

I finally had enough and I got up and said to myself that I am not going to continue sitting here feeling sorry for myself.

I knew I wasn’t going to write anything anyway so I needed to get out and do something different.

But what? What does a creative person do when he can’t create? When he’s lost that feeling that he’s doing something worthwhile and special?

This creative person took his wife on a trip.

And not just anywhere, I took her to the oldest city in Germany, Trier and it is there where I rediscovered my passion, why I write and I hope I don’t forget it anytime soon.

Sometimes what’s needed is a change of scenery to gain a new perspective and to reconnect with one’s faith.

This time of year there is a Christmas Market in downtown Trier and it is setup in front of the city’s Cathedral.

Cathedral of Trier

I thought the Christmas Market would be a wonderful getaway, but I didn’t realize we would happen upon such an amazing landmark of faith, built by Constantine, construction began in 326 AD.

From the outside it was truly breathtaking and awe-inspiring, an amazing work of architectural art and design and fortunately for us, we could go inside.

Inside the Cathedral of Trier

Once we were inside there came upon me the necessity to say a silent prayer and it was at the moment when I said “Amen”, when clarity finally came to me.

I became aware of two clear thoughts:

All things in life happen at the moment they need to, not a moment too soon and not a moment too late.

Click here to tweet that, if you like.


Do what you do and love what you do.

Click here to tweet that, too.

Those were the messages I needed to hear and helped me remember that going viral or being accepted isn’t why I do what I do.

Ways to deal with and overcome rejection:

1) Stay strong, the Cathedral of Trier wasn’t built in a day.

2) Realize that rejection, like it or not, is part of the process and sometimes your work isn’t a fit with just any publisher.

3) Take a deep breath, have faith and step away from writing and go visit somewhere remarkable.

4) Connect with other creative people. Perhaps the best thing I did this last year was join an online class: TRIBE WRITERS. After all, thanks to Tribe Writers I decided to create this new blog and step outside the only niche I’ve written for in the last half decade.

Tribe Writers is an online course about writing, blogging, networking and building a tribe. It’s the best and I can’t recommend it enough. Beyond the lessons, this community of writers is one of the most supportive, encouraging and kind you will ever find.

*I mentioned in a previous post that I would let you know when Jeff Goins would reopen for a new class, he’s done that and you can now join Tribe Writers, but if you’re interested don’t wait because he’s only accepting new students for a limited time.

5) Remember why you do what you do, it’s not about acceptance, fame, going viral and not about perfection. You know what it is really about for you.

And here I am writing, rejuvenated and excited to be creating again.

If you ever get that heartbreaking feeling of hurt that what you are doing isn’t good enough or worthwhile anymore, remember to have faith, connect with fellow writers and if you have the urge to get up and go visit somewhere, it’s probably a good idea.

I am certain that when you think about it, you know other ways how writers (and all types of creative people for that matter) can deal with and overcome rejection. I hope you have a moment to share those with us in the comments below.

With that I leave you with a couple more pictures of our trip to Trier.

Porta Nigra Trier built by the Roman Empire between 186 and 200 AD

And as if I need any more encouragement, as we drove out of Trier we viewed another fantastical site, St. Mary’s Column which oversees the city at 130ft high.

St. Mary’s Column Trier 130ft

Have you experienced rejection? If so, what helped you?

Share in the comments.

– Btw: Joan and I snapped all of the photos (we are total amateurs, but we love taking photos) and the Tribe Writers link is an affiliate link.


About Bryan Hutchinson

I'm a positive writer and when that doesn't work, I eat chocolate. I help fellow writers overcome doubt and thrive! In my free time, I love visiting castles with my wife, Joan. Join me on Twitter and Facebook.

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  • annepeterson

    Bryan, Loved your post. On more than one level. My husband and I did two tours in Germany. You just reminded me what I miss. Rejection. It seems there’s only one way to really avoid it. Don’t do anything risky. The only problem with that is you miss out on life!

    When I have felt rejection the thing I eventually do is take that feeling to God. I’m getting better at taking it to him sooner. But, until I do it eats away. The enemy of our soul loves to bring up other times I’ve felt that way. And when I finally talk about it with God, he gently reminds me, he was rejected. Still is rejected.

    How can we as followers think we will experience anything less? And yet, sometimes we are surprised. Any difficult thing we experience gives us a glimpse of who God is.

    Thanks for you post. And the great photos of a great place.

    • Thank you, Anne. Two tours in Germany? Where were you stationed?

      I agree with you and thank you about the Photos. 🙂

  • I love this, Bryan. “Going viral or being accepted isn’t why I do what I do.” Thank you for that reminder!
    I live in Germany right now. My family and I are here for a year (now into month #7). But I don’t know where Trier is. Where is it? Your pictures are beautiful. I think I might have to find it. 🙂

    • Hi Brianna, thanks! Where are you located in Germany? Trier is very close to the luxemburg border, just under Bitburg (the city, not the beer) and between Bitburg and Saarbrucken. You can find more information here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trier

  • Trent

    Thanks Bryan.  I finished my first book four months ago and had a few weeks of “now what?” before getting in gear and starting the marketing process.  You are absolutely right: getting great connections to support and keep me positive is the best thing I have ever done.  

    Thank you for sharing your wisdom,

    P.S.  Thank you for adding a new item on my “places to visit” list.  I’ll be going to Ireland in April for my honeymoon, but I think Germany won’t be too far behind.

    • Congrats on your book, Trent! That’s awesome.

      I think you’ll love Ireland, it’s such a beautiful country. Germany is, too and there are lots of castles here 🙂 

      • Trent

        You’re in Germany now? Are you German or did you move there?

        • No Trent, I’m not German. I am originally from Sacramento CA.

  • Another encouraging post, Bryan. Just last week, I received a rejection on a piece of work I submitted. I admit to sulking a couple of days, then I realized that I can use that rejection to move forward and improve my writing.

    Love the photos. I’m an ameteur photographer myself. I find that photography inspires me to write and vise-versa. 


    • Love that, Joan: “I realized that I can use that rejection to move forward and improve my writing.” Me, too 🙂 Thank you.

      Are you posting your photos?

      • Bryan, on my devotional blog, Reflections of His Grace, I most often used my own photos. Since starting the new blog, I’ve mostly been using photo dropper to find creative commons pics that seem to fit the post. The header on both blogs are my own.

        My husband and I went on an Alaskan cruise this past summer and I took almost 900 photos (not all were keepers.) I love the fact that digital photography makes this possible. Easy to delete the bad ones, unlike the days of film where you took a limited amount of vacation pics and hoped they turned out okay.

        • Totally, Joan, digital photography saves $$$ lol – Joan (my wife) is a much better photographer than I am, but she lets me carry the camera the most so I can feel like I take good pictures 🙂

          I love the photos in your header, especially to the right with the sun rays coming through the forest. Beautiful and breathtaking and matches your site perfectly. I also love the calm waters. You’re very good!

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  • Hallie Price

    Thanks so much for this post, Bryan. Exactly what I was looking for.

  • Rejection pierces and it’s so painful it sears. That’s what I felt when I had my first rejection. It hurt my ego big time. It made me doubt my skills as a writer and all the good things people said about my writing dissipated when I didn’t get the writing project I want.
    But eventually, I learned that it’s part of the game. And that I shouldn’t take it personally; that it’s not an attack to my skills and there are tons of other reasons (not geared towards a specific audience, etc.).
    Now I get rejections left and right and I just shrug it off.

  • royalwatcher

    I really like this post. I’m just staring out trying to submit stories to magazines. The other day I received an ‘encoraging’ rejection. I was told that my story wasn’t a good fit for the publication and to try again in a couple of months. Despite this it still bothered me, even though I know there will be rejection. I finally, mentally, sat myself down, fanned through the writers market book at the hundreds of listings and said that is not the only publication out there. ONE of them will be a good fit. I just have to spend time finding the ones that are better potential fits and keep going. That is what I plan to do.