Positive Writer

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

What To Do BEFORE Rejection KILLS You!

Okay, seriously, the first thing you need to do is step away from that thought, slowly. Go ahead, step away. It’s going to be okay. – I mean it. Really. It’s going to be okay.

Rejection is not deadly. It just feels that way. You’re a writer and if you, well, write and send your work out, you’re going to be rejected at some point. It won’t kill you, I promise. It will hurt like hell, but it won’t kill you.

What follows is a short, adapted excerpt from “Writer’s Doubt.”


The mere thought of rejection has caused writers more nightmares than any other fear. Unfortunately, as a writer you’ll have to deal with rejection eventually. That’s okay. It’s happened to the best. It happened to Stephen King, J. K. Rowling, and even Dr. Seuss. (Yep, Dr. Seuss. See, it can’t be all that bad.)

I’m not going to tell you to simply get over it. Instead, I have a few tips for you on how to deal with it.

(For this post I reduced the number of tips to 5.)

5 Tips on Dealing With Rejection

1. Admit it, getting rejected sucks.

Go ahead, just tell yourself right now, “Getting rejected sucks and hurts like hell.” Because it does, on both counts.

2. Grieve.

The next step is to allow your emotions room to breathe. You need to give yourself permission to grieve intentionally. There’s nothing worse than needing to express your pain and holding it in. Go somewhere, perhaps in the middle of the woods, and just scream. It’s okay. You don’t want to bottle up your emotions inside because if you don’t let them out doubt will use them against you.

If screaming isn’t your thing and you feel like crying, then by all means get a pillow, some chocolate, or ice cream, and cry your writer’s heart out.

3. Persevere.

Writer’s Doubt loves rejection. It thrills in the chance to tell you “I told you so.” This is why letting your emotions out is imperative, and the sooner, the better. I don’t suggest forcing your emotions because they have their own timetable, but when you do feel them allow them to run their course. Now, here’s what to watch for: While your emotions are at their height, doubt will start whispering in your ear. Her voice may be soothing. She may tell you everything will be okay, that you knew it was going to happen anyway.

Doubt will continue her sweet whispers saying things like, “You don’t need to deal with this anymore,” “you should never try again because the pain just isn’t worth it,” “besides, no one cares enough to understand what you’re writing about,” “they don’t deserve your words.”

As (dis)comforting as all that may sound, doubt has only one goal, and that is to get you to give up, to quit trying to be published and to stop you from striving to improve as a writer.

4. Keep writing.

As you grieve, you’ll come to a point where it’s time to stop grieving. No matter what, keep writing, keep improving and continue to send your work out. If you were fortunate to get feedback with your rejection notice, read it closely and see if you can learn something valuable from it. If you sent your manuscript to only one agent or publisher, or even a few, it’s time to send it to a dozen more. Dr. Seuss’ first book was rejected well over twenty times!

5. Write for love.

You love writing. You do it first and foremost for you. Getting published was, is, and always will be, a byproduct of doing what you love. It’s great when it happens, but it’s not why you started writing.

You will get better and you will continue to send your work out, and if you always do it because you love to write, doubt won’t be able to talk you out of it.


Write for you. Write because you love to write. Love always trumps doubt.

(Tweet this)

How do you deal with rejection? Share in the comments.

*The “Write For You” image above I printed, framed and put it on my wall as a reminder. If you’d like to do the same, click on the image to get the larger version. You can also use it for a blog post, just link back here if you do. Enjoy!

This post was an excerpt from “Writer’s Doubt.”

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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  • Great suggestions. Every aspiring writer should be required to have grown up in sports because losses happen and winners overcome and improve. They also should have experience as a salesperson working on commissions tied to performance. The “No’s far outweigh the Yes’s” but the No’s add value and significance to the Yes’s! A great movie to motivate each us is “Little Giants” with Rick Moranis….”but there was one time!” is an awesome line of inspiration in this movie. Check this out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=khauvdb_f8A

    • I loved the video! I never watched the movie, but now you’ve got me looking to get a copy. Thanks for sharing.

      • You are most welcome. You will enjoy the movie if you find it. Everyone likes to see the unthinkable beat the formidable force.

  • Linda

    Brian, thanks for putting into such clear thought the process for overcoming rejection. I jotted down your steps! I printed and posted the picture of “Write for You. Write Because You Love to Write! I often get gridlocked with feelings of rejection and writer’s doubt –especially right after I post something new on my blog. I have learned that I am such a junkie for approval and applause! But even so, I love writing–and do it every day–either in my journals or preparing for my next blog post. Needless to say–I’m reading your book highlighting and noting on cards your pithy ‘quotables’ (Kindle version!) I am learning a lot.

    • I think in many ways, we are all junkies for it, Linda. Sadly, I think so.

  • Dean K Miller

    Acceptance and moving on. The reasons for rejection are as varied as the pieces we submit. It’s a chance to improve a piece, improve your writing and finding the home. I don’t spend a lot of time grieving. It happens and will continue into the future. It’s a sign that I am writing, working and growing.

  • Bryan~I think we can live more in love and less in fear or doubt when we take a witnessing stance on our emotional experience. When we become curious about our process, learn to love the questions (as Rilke suggests) and notice our own patterns we can then make big, positive change. When this is balanced with also taking space to lean into the places of doubt in a way that brings light to the dark, we and our writing become unstoppable.

  • lindsaywriter

    Nice article. I’m big on keep writing – whenever rejection or a bad review, or anything negative floats my way the cure is always to get back to work. That’s always the positive.

  • Like Lindsay, my way to handle rejection is to grieve, learn and move on.

    Not writing anything makes the rejection even painful to bear. And writing for the love of writing have always motivated me to move on. I wouldn’t want to let rejection stop me from continuing to gain pleasure from the act of writing itself.

    Thanks for the post, Bryan.