Sunday, August 30, 2009

Rejection -- Use it to improve your writing

No writer -- no matter how seasoned -- likes rejection. You do get used to it, however, and you can learn to use it to improve your writing. How do you get to the point where you can learn from rejection? Practice....

Rejection at any stage in your writing career is tantamount to a swift whack in the knees with a sledge hammer. Recovery time decreases with repetition until it becomes routine for you to feel the sting then get back to work. Here are a few suggestions on how to use rejection to improve your writing:

1. Consider the rejection for what it is. The first time you receive a rejection letter, you feel as if the wind has been knocked out of you. You may consider quitting. You may become depressed. These are logical reactions. After all, you've sweated over your manuscript for months or years and are rewarded with a postcard saying..."Sorry, pal." Although it may seem as if the world has declared that you should find a new career, it ain't so. That rejection letter you just received came from one person at one publishing house. Don't let the opinion of one person -- someone you don't know -- change your career course. Although it hurts, put it in perspective and move on.

2. Consider the competition. With the advent of the computer, more and more people are writing books and submitting them in much less time than when writers used to write their books on legal pads and type them after they perfected them. Today, so many people have computers, the competition is greater. Have you done everything you can to ensure you're better than they are? Have you studied writing? Do you know point of view, voice, character development, back story, etc? If these terms don't mean anything to you, maybe you need to do a little more studying while you're writing. It's rare that someone can sit down and pump out a flawless book. Writing, like any profession, takes study and practice. So, be sure you have the skills of your competitors. Many writers submit two or three books before they write one that is good enough to elicit an acceptance letter from a publisher instead of a rejection letter. Don't take rejection personally. Instead, keep perfecting your craft.

3. Consider the economy. I'm not saying that you should not pursue a writing career because the economy is working against you. I'm just saying that there are fewer slots for the publication of your novel, so expect to work for your place in the sun.

4. Consider the type of rejection you've received. There are many types of rejections. Here are three:

There are form rejection letters that reaches you before you thought it physically possible for your manuscript to reach the publisher. If you receive one of these, you may want to make sure you followed the publisher's procedure in submitting your manuscript. It may have been sent back because they don't accept manuscripts from unagented writers or they want to receive a book proposal in a certain format rather than a full manuscript. Many times publishing houses send back manuscripts without even looking at them if the writer hasn't followed their guidelines. So be sure to do your homework. If you did follow the guidelines, send your book out again. The form rejection really doesn't give you any ideas of ways to revise your book.

Another type of rejection is the form letter with a handwritten note on it. Unless the note says, "Don't ever darken our door again," this is a good rejection. Someone took the time to actually write you a note. If the note says, "Good luck placing this elsewhere," move on. Send it to someone else. However, if the note says to re-submit after you revise, don't waste this invitation. Revise and resubmit.

A third type of rejection (the best rejection of them all) is a letter to you personally that tells you in detail what you should change. If the changes are in keeping with what you want for your book, make them and return the manuscript, being sure to send it to the editor who wrote the rejection letter to you. Editors don 't usually take the time to point out what should be changed in a book unless they are interested in your work. So, dry those tears...this one might lead to an acceptance.

When considering a rejection letter, learn from it. As quickly as you can, put your ego aside. Nurse your hurt feelings for a minute and a half and get busy on your writing. The more you write, the better your writing will become. So get out of your way and consider the possibility of receiving acceptance letters instead of dreaded rejection letters.

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