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Resources for Writers

Coping with Rejection: Really Useful Links by Ellen Brickley

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Article by Ellen Brickley ©.
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If you’re a writer, you will have been warned to brace yourself for rejections (and if you haven’t, this is your warning). Rejection is part of sending creative work into the world. Even the best books ever written aren’t universally loved, and the response to any piece of writing is subjective. Agent A may not like your book, but that doesn’t mean Agent Z and Publisher Q won’t love it!

But how do you cope when the rejection from Agent A lands? How do you find the will to send your work out again – and how can you tell when it might be time to stop?

Angela Tung at Huffington Post covers a lot of the basics here. Don’t send an angry reply (or in most cases, any reply at all), allow yourself to feel disappointed, and have another project on the go so the rejection stings less. If you’re not ready for another novel just yet, try writing in a different form –these lists at writing.ie, the Irish Writers’ Centre, Big Smoke Writing Factory and Aerogramme Studio can help you to find outlets for many different types of writing.

LitRejections.com (who should know a thing or two about this) have some practical suggestions – display your rejections proudly as a sign of your commitment, or write an extra-horrible rejection letter to yourself, so that the real rejections hurt less.

Some sites, including LitRejections above, suggest self-publishing, which is a great path for many writers. However, it’s also a lot of work, and potentially costly, so do some serious thinking about whether it’s the right path for you – be wary of leaping in just because your work didn’t find a traditionally-published home. Writing.ie columnist and USA Today bestseller Catherine Ryan Howard’s blog is always a source of solid, reasoned advice, especially about self-publishing.

So, when you’ve eaten your ice-cream, cried a little but not too much, ranted to your bedroom walls but not to the source of your rejection, and sent some new work out, then what? It’s time to evaluate. Mary Kole lists some types of rejection you may receive. Are you getting any feedback? Are certain issues coming up repeatedly in rejections? Most importantly, does the feedback resonate with you? Again, Catherine Ryan Howard is wise on this subject. You may feel like you can make your work better, now that you’ve had some distance from it, and if not, there’s no shame in taking some more time away from one project and working on something new.

Time is the best cure, but failing that, remember that you’re definitely not alone.

(c) Ellen Brickley


Ellen Brickley is a Dublin-based, chai-latte-powered novelist, essayist, and civil servant who can't believe she gets paid to write sometimes. She holds an MA in American Literature from UCD, and has provided content for Explorer Publishing and Lionbridge Technologies. Her essays have appeared in Banshee literary magazine. She is currently hard at work on revisions for a YA novel.