If a writer ever says they were never told “no,” they’re either lying or they’re a damn unicorn because writers that always hear “yes” don’t exist. If you want to put your words out to the masses, be prepared for a lot of rejection. It’s the one experience every writer encounters at some point, once their work is seen by other eyes besides their own.
What constitutes a “no?” Well, simply put, a “no” is anything that’s not a positive “yes.” Perhaps you’re trying to get published via literary agents or you’re spending days pitching to magazines and websites. If that’s the case, your no will likely be literal, if they bother to respond at all. Speaking of which, don’t be surprised if agents and editors never respond to your queries. It’s a hard rejection, but a realistic one nonetheless.
Maybe you’re not diving that deep into the literary pool yet. Perhaps you’ve written and published a blog or successfully pitched to an online publication. If so, there’s still a place where your work can be rejected: the comments section.
A couple years ago, I branched out with my writing and extended the reach of my audience. Or at least, I tried to. I was so proud to be published, to have successfully queried an editor and gotten that elusive “yes” after months of teetering back and forth on whether or not I should even bother. Once published, I could not keep away from my article. I pulled it up constantly and watched the Facebook “likes” and “shares” tallies grow. Eventually, I made my way to the comments section of my article and was quickly and effectively humbled.
People are mean.
Don’t get me wrong. There was a lot of love shown for my work, but there was some hate too. It was that article’s comments that showed me that my skin was nowhere near as thick as it needed to be to survive this industry.
Contrary to popular belief, words hurt like a bitch, and when harsh words are directed at your craft, your passion, it hits you in a place that reserved for abandoned puppies. Being told no, or that you’re not good enough can play havoc on your self-esteem. I certainly questioned my work. And when I got my first one-star rating and two-star review on my first book, I seriously wondered if I was wasting my time.
The answer is no, I’m not. And neither are you.
A writer, musician, artist, or anyone who creates because they have an intense love for their craft is doing exactly what they should be doing: Being creative. Using your mind and body to express your skills and limitless imagination is never a waste. Never think for a second that it is. However, it is important to understand that while there is something for everyone, not everyone will appreciate what you do. Maybe you’re not what that agent is looking for. Maybe that editor was presented with another article that better fit the theme and tone of the magazine. Maybe that commenter is just an asshole. Don’t fret. It’s okay to be upset, at first, but don’t stay down. Keep pushing. Improve your skills. Keep sending queries. Ignore the “no.” Eventually, you will earn a “yes.”
Most importantly, remember that unicorns don’t exist. Rejection is a part of growth and it happens to everyone, even the greats.
Write on. Make your own magic.