Rejection Can Be Good for You!

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Rejection and self-doubt go together like ice cream and a hot day – one seldom goes without the other.  All writers experience rejection at some stage of our writing careers. It’s not a great feeling, but it can provide a significant learning curve.


Rejected! The editor’s reply to my proposed article was a big red stamp on my cover letter.

The horror and disappointment were like a punch to the gut. Does he know I put in dozens of hours of work, just to be rejected? Does he realize that I studied through the SA Writers College?

But then I turned the knife on my thoughts. What if my writing is not good enough? Or worse, does the whole editorial team think my article belongs in the permanent recycle bin?

How does rejection affect people?

Even highly qualified scientists experience rejection of their research at times.

Just imagine you made a ground-breaking scientific breakthrough and (cue the drum roll): the scientific community rejects your research! But rejection doesn’t necessarily failure. You just need to rethink the idea. An interesting take on rejection by scientists was published in this article.

Everyone fails and gets their work rejected at times. Just like the well-known five stages of grief, I experienced the Five Stages of Rejection.

  • Denial: You are wrong, I am right!
  • Anger: I’m going to write a scathing e-mail to this editor and give him a piece of my mind.
  • Bargaining: Hey, maybe I need to rethink and apologize to the abovementioned editor.
  • Depression: Cue the waterworks, chocolates, and red wine!
  • Acceptance: I need to ignore the voices of self-doubt in my head and review my article.

Coping with Writer’s Rejection

I will be lying if I said I do not feel jealousy when accomplished journalists publish article after article in glossy magazines or online. But let me tell you a secret: even award-winning writers have been rejected. Even seasoned journalists get a ‘no’ from time to time.

Minimising Rejection as a Freelance Journalist (It’s almost impossible to avoid)

Below are some tips to avoid rejection.

  • Soft Skills

Jane Schiever’s article in the Writers College Times gives sound advice about soft skills development. These can go a long way in securing future freelance work (and help preserve your sanity).

Developing your soft skills is a necessity for avoiding the editor’s rejection. It shows that you are open to change.

  • Rejection Do’s and Don’ts

We all have irritations. But when it comes to an editor, these irritations could mean rejection. Tracy Brooks gives a handy guide to navigating the road to an editor’s heart. Read it here.  

I once submitted a half-baked article to my tutor at the SA Writers College. Her reply felt like the ultimate rejection. If only I had read the above-mentioned article.

In hindsight, it made me rethink and rewrite. The rejection was the best thing that could happen to me. It made me evaluate my article and identify my flaws.

Personal Growth from Rejection

Your personal growth depends on how you handle rejection. Do you curl up in a ball and think your life is over? Or do you take a deep breath and start from another angle?

Don’t be too hard on yourself when you get rejected. See rejection as a checkpoint to evaluate your abilities and make the necessary changes.

About the Author

Nick le Roux is a freelance journalist, blogger, online teacher and renewable energy enthusiast. His other interests are cars, psychology, coffee and nature conservation. He lives in Centurion, Gauteng with his wife and four-legged children.


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