Do You Fear Rejection

By Jennifer Blanchard

Fear of success and fear of failure are only two out of the four main things procrastinators fear. The third fear is fear of rejection.

A fear of rejection is an outcome of low self esteem and/or lack of confidence in yourself and your writing.  A fear of rejection makes you feel like everyone in the world is a better writer than you are.

So where does fear of rejection come from?

“As a child this fear may have developed within you when your parents constantly compared you with others with the intention that this might drive you to do best in life,” according to the article, Do You Suffer From Fear of Rejection? “How hard you worked couldn’t satisfy others and thus you developed the feeling that you can never be better than this.”

Many writers suffer from fear of rejection. They believe no one will ever accept their work and they will be rejected by everyone in the writing world–publishers, editors, other authors and, especially, readers.

Here are some signs you fear rejection:

  • You never assert yourself or stand up for yourself
  • You lack the courage to send your writing out into the world
  • You lack the courage to allow anyone to read your writing
  • You never speak up when you have ideas, suggestions, advice, etc
  • You don’t believe in yourself or your writing
  • You don’t take any (or you take very few) risks
  • You think every writer in the world is a better writer than you are
  • You never even attempt to go after your dreams

If you see these signs in yourself, you may have a fear of rejection. For more information, or to see other examples of what fear of rejection looks like, read:

Being rejected can be a scary thing. Rejection affirms that there is someone out there who doesn’t like your writing.

What you have to remember, though, is that when your writing is rejected, the only thing being rejected is your writing.

So many times writers see rejection as a rejection of themselves, and that’s when they lose the courage to submit their work or, in some cases, to continue writing.

What you need to understand is a rejection of your writing is NOT a rejection of you. It is ONLY a rejection of your writing.

And just because your writing was rejected, that doesn’t mean you’re not a good writer. All writers get rejected at some point in their careers. It’s the writers who learn to use rejection as fuel to become a better writer and keep putting themselves out there that eventually succeed.

Stephen King is a great example of this. In his book, On Writing, he talks about how he used to collect all his rejection letters and pin them to the ceiling in his bedroom.

If you make it your business to see rejection as an opportunity to better yourself and keep on trying, it’s a lot less frightening.

Plus, it’s better to have a ton of rejection letters and know that you’re actually attempting your writing dreams than it is to have none because you were never brave enough to try.

Action Steps

  • Accept that rejection is part of being a writer–Once you can accept this thought, you will be able to overcome your fear of being rejected. Just keep in mind that all the greats were rejected at one point or another, too.
  • Collect rejections–As I mentioned above, Stephen King hung his rejection letters from his bedroom ceiling and kept on submitting his writing. If you accept that rejection is just part of being a writer, you can then play the rejection game. What that means is, collect rejections. Instead of getting a rejection letter and thinking, “Ugh, not another rejection letter…” think “Yes! Another rejection letter!”
  • Keep all your rejection letters together–Or if you’re brave enough, post them all somewhere you can see them. Then anytime you look at them, see them as proof that you’re brave, courageous and a risk taker. See them as a reminder that you are going after your dreams and that you are putting yourself out there in a big way.
  • Have someone say “no” to you over and over again–I know this sounds silly, but I once did a program where I learned how to get over rejection. We did this exercise where we turned to the person next to us and rejected them over and over and over again until we were all totally bored and over our fear of being rejected.Once you’ve been rejected a 100 times, it doesn’t feel so bad when you get rejected 101 times.
  • Keep sending your writing out; keep showing your writing to others–The last thing you want to do is let your fear of rejection get the best of you. So keep writing, keep submitting your writing, keep showing your writing to people. The more you do it, the better you’ll get at it.

How To Not Let Rejection Kill Your Confidence

By Donald E. W. Quist

“There can be no great courage where there is no confidence or assurance, and half the battle is in the conviction that we can do what we undertake,” Orison Swett Marden

So you rush out to the mailbox only to discover you’ve received your umpteenth rejection letter. Now then, rather than cursing the literary world for not recognizing your genius and swearing off writing forever, this is the part where you need to renew your resolve.

When pursuing a career in writing it is crucial to maintain one’s confidence. Besides talent, confidence is the single most important component of getting your work read. If you don’t believe in what you do then why should anyone else?

It seems so simple and cliché—Believe in yourself. However, it is something we too often forget when reading over an elegantly worded NO. I decided to get a professional opinion from Sarah Pekkanen, former features writer for the Baltimore Sun and author of The Opposite of Me—a novel soon to be released by Atria, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. As Pekkanen put it, “It’s incredibly important to maintain one’s confidence when trying to get published. So much of this is luck and timing and perseverance, not just talent.”

We shouldn’t allow ourselves to get discouraged by rejection and remember it comes with the territory. As Pekkanen reminded me, “Think of all the big-name writers who were turned down at first—including J.K Rowling and John Grisham. Rejection is part of the process; it’s not personal.”

In regards to the relationship between self-belief and procrastination, it is only natural a lack of confidence lead to a lack of productivity. Your query letter gets shot down after an agent asks to see a partial and suddenly you’re spinning excuses for not writing. You tell yourself you have to do more research before you continue with a particular passage, or you spend hours surfing the internet while a blank Microsoft Word document sits unmodified from its last save.

I know this cause I’ve been there. I’m currently finishing up a novel I once let sit untouched for over 6 months after I received my first batch of rejection letters for a short story I was working on. It’s easy to think that no one will ever be interested, but as my e-mail-pal, Young Adult Fiction writer Kathleen Jeffrie Johnson, helped me realize—for every reason I feared my writing wouldn’t find a home there is an example of an author overcoming a similar obstacle.

You’re scared you’re too young—S.E. Hinton was 16 when The Outsiders was published. You’re scared you’re too old—Gabriel Garcia Marquez didn’t hit his stride until 40 with One Hundred Years of Solitude, and at 82 years old shows no signs of stopping.

And neither should you. Keep at it. Keep writing and stay positive.

By now most of us have heard the name Susan Boyle breeze past the lips of friends and co-workers enamored by the operatic timbre of this pudgy, Scottish, church volunteer-turned-viral video phenomenon. (I mean seriously, the lady’s already got her own Wikipedia entry.) Though I hate to dedicate yet another blog entry to Boyle and risk being dated, she best embodies what it takes to succeed in any type of arts industry—the confidence to put oneself out there and the strength to withstand rejection. She stands as a model for all of us. If you enjoy doing what you love then do it and continue to seek out opportunities to show the world your talent.

About the Author: A freelancer for Media General, Inc., Donald E.W. Quist has written several special interest features for the Florence Morning News, the Hartsville Messenger and InnerViews Magazine. He is the recipient of the 2005 Coker College Write-On Award, and his creative work has appeared in Xcursions Magazine and ERGO magazine. Currently he is shopping for a home for his first novel—Young Folks.

He hopes to launch a website this summer. He invites you to follow him on Twitter: @DonaldEWQuist.

How To Turn Failure Into Amazing Writing Opportunities

By MJ Doyle


Imagine if writers automatically gave up after making one mistake, after receiving their first rejection, or even after having a full-on failure on their resume. Think about how many great novels, poems, short stories, and of course blogs, we would have missed out on.


All that classic literature that we have read, enjoyed, and grown up with came to us not as a first draft but as a symbol of the writer’s ability to see failure as a window to success.


Consider the following photograph:




I strongly disagree with what this picture symbolizes. Failure and success are not two different destinations in life. First of all, there are no real destinations in life as we are all constantly evolving on many levels. Secondly, it is only through rejection and failure that new doors of opportunities are opened to us.


There are 3 types of mistakes that I’d like to address:


  1. when we write something that doesn’t fit into our original outline, mold, or idea
  2. when we are being told by outside forces (i.e. an editor), or even by ourselves, that our writing is not “acceptable” as is (i.e. a rejection letter)
  3. when everything in our life seems to be going wrong and we just plain feel like a failure

Let’s start with the first one. Have you ever been writing, just letting your mind go wherever it desires, and come up with something completely unexpected? Something your internal editor may have flagged as a mistake had you not been allowing yourself to write freely?


As writers we have a tendency to over-think, overanalyze, and over-edit. Relax. Pay attention to the “mistakes” you make while writing and see if they are in fact new opportunities to expand, or perhaps even completely change, your original idea. Don’t be too quick with the delete button. Remember: We don’t write to get things right, we write to get things started, or progressing, to see where our minds take us. As uncomfortable as it may feel, let your gut be your guide.


The second type of mistake we writers often encounter is what we would consider a failure, or rejection. That is, either we don’t like what we’ve written, or someone to whom we are accountable doesn’t like it, or both (they are kind of one in the same, aren’t they?). In either case, the work seems to be dead in the water.


This is where opportunity knocks. This is how we strengthen our writing muscles. Without these failures and rejections, our writing would remain weak and drab. Imagine a body builder training for a competition and giving up after she realizes the weight is too heavy. She just can’t lift it. But what does she do? She lifts it as far as she can and then tries again. She keeps building the muscle until she can lift that weight.


And that’s what happens with writing. When you fail, it is a sign that something needs to be strengthened. Find out what it is and don’t give up. Failing builds muscle, because it enables us to become better at what we do.


Lastly, there may be failures or mistakes that you are facing in life right now. How can these possibly help your writing? Well, if everything in your life were footloose and fancy free, what would there be to write about? No one wants to read about an ordinary person who is sailing through life unscathed.


We write from within ourselves. This applies to fiction and non-fiction, including  blogging. If our lives were problem free, our proverbial pages would be blank. We’d have absolutely no material, no personal experiences from which to draw.


The best way to translate your personal failures into writing is to journal. Then, when it comes time to write something, you have some meaty material. Use the crappy things that happen to you as fodder for some amazing writing.


Now, close your eyes, and imagine yourself licking the stamp that will send your first (or next) query letter or proposal off to an editor. How will you react to the rejection that you will most likely face?


The next time you’re writing and something completely wrong flies onto the page, will you delete it right away, or will you consider that your mind is trying to tell you something?


And when your life feels like nothing is going right, will you retreat to the T.V. or fridge to dull the pain, or will you simply sit down and write?


About the Author: MJ Doyle is the author of “Beat Your Procrastination by Releasing Your Clutter.”  Her blog, S.O.S. Your Life, teaches others how to organize their way to personal development.

The Things Procrastinators Fear

By Jennifer Blanchard

Fear, according to, is: “a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined.”

Fear can be real OR imagined. When it comes to the things that procrastinating writers fear, it’s imagined.

In fact, someone once said FEAR stands for: False Expectations Appearing Real.

So why, if procrastinators’ fears are false, do they still hold them back?

Because procrastinators truly believe the fear is real.

Procrastinators fear many things, but there are 4 that really stand out as the main fears that feed all the rest:

Now you may have read the above and felt a little angered. You don’t procrastinate because you fear success (or failure or rejection or not being good enough)! You procrastinate because you “don’t have time to write” or because you “are so tired from working all day you just can’t write.”

I’m here to be a little in-your-face and say that those excuses (not having time, being too tired, etc) are just that–excuses. And behind those excuses is a little 4-letter word: Fear.

To better explain it, read this awesome Copyblogger post called, “The Nasty Four-Letter Word That Keeps You From Writing.”

The good news about all this is everyone has fear inside them; and there’s something you can do about it!

Over the next 4 Tuesdays, I’m going to bring you in-depth posts on fear–covering the 4 main things writers fears (mentioned above), and giving tips on how to write despite your fears.

For now, use the Copyblogger post as a way to begin gauging your fears. Next time you avoid writing, take a second to think about the real reason behind why you didn’t write–fear.

What are your writing fears? Which of the 4 main fears most stops you from getting your writing done?

How To Overcome Writing Rejection

By Jennifer Blanchard

Rejection is a part of life. And one place you’re almost guaranteed to run into rejection is when you’re trying to get your writing published.


Yes, I said it.

And if you’re planning on making a career in writing and publishing, you better plan on facing the facts: Your writing will be rejected (Note: I said your writing would be rejected, not you. You are fabulous!). Every writer experiences rejection. It’s the nature of the business.

Here’s how to overcome writing rejection:

  1. Retain Absolute Faith–Step one to putting your writing out there is you have to believe in yourself and your writing. (And if you don’t, you shouldn’t be putting your work out there until you do.) Believing is 90 percent of being successful.
  • Confront the Brutal Facts–You got rejected, that’s it. That doesn’t mean anything. You are still a good writer. Your writing is still worthy of being sent to magazines and publishers.
  • Act!–Keep trying. Keep sending your work out. Keep writing.

As Thomas Jefferson said: “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

So, Procrastinating Writers…how do you deal with writing rejection?