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Getting to Rejection - The First Step in Freelance Writing

The First Rejection of Your Writing is a Badge of Courage

The longer I coach and mentor other writers, the more I'm convinced the first significant milestone in a successful freelance writing career is the initial rejection letter. Most people who say they want to write never get this far; those who do are much more likely to go the distance.

That first rejection letter, and usually it is a canned we're sorry we can't use... notice stuffed hastily in the SASE (Self Addressed Stamped Envelope), represents a lot of work for the writer. It starts with the idea, which, for new writers, is more often than not pretty unformed. That idea has to be honed so a target market can be found. Then the writer actually has to write either a query or the piece.

Writing Isn't Easy

Many would-be writers get stuck at the actual writing. I suppose that isn't surprising.

Sitting down to a blank screen and filling it up with readable words isn't easy. There are all sorts of distractions. It's so much easier to play a game, check email, or wash the dishes. There are also all sorts of fear issues too. Sitting alone at a computer is an ideal place for self-doubts of all kinds to appear.

But nothing really happens until we do sit down and write. The best idea for a story or a book in the world is just a thought until you actually put pen to paper or fingers to the keyboard. Successful freelancers have found a way to break through that fear and put words on paper. Included in those fears is often a fear of rejection.

Rejection Letter - A Badge of Courage

In truth, however, those first rejection slips are actually badges of courage. Think about it. You've actually completed many steps:

  • The original idea
  • Honing that idea
  • Finding a target market or two
  • Drafting the article
  • Rewriting and editing, maybe many times
  • Final copy
  • Cover letter
  • SASE
  • Mailing the package

So post that rejection slip right on the wall - I did in the beginning, and now I wish I'd framed that first one.

Most Successful Authors Get Rejection Letters

Almost every successful writer has been rejected, often multiple times. In fact, Bill Henderson and Andre Bernard have actually compiled a wonderful selection of rejections in their book called Pushcart's Complete Rotten Reviews & Rejection. Included in the rejections they spell out are Jane Austin, Irving Stone and even Dr. Seuss - his And To Think I Saw It On Mulberry Street was rejected with "It is too different from other juvenile books on the market to warrant it selling."

Herman Melville, Anthony Trollope, Agatha Christie, HG Wells, Gustave Flaubert and Walt Whitman and even Anne Frank all had their writing rejected by publishers.

Yet somehow each one of these well-known writers, and many others, found a way to keep writing, and keep submitting. They were able to dig down deep into their own personal reserves and persist. And we are richer for their efforts.

So I say if you're just getting started, work toward that first rejection letter. When it comes, celebrate it Frame it and hang it on the wall. It's a badge of courage and an acknowledgment that you've passed the first milestone; you're on your way.

You might enjoy RejectionCollection.com - a collection of all sorts of rejections.



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Email Anne: Anne@AboutFreelanceWriting.com

Learn about Anne - she writes, she coaches, and she ghostwrites:  www.annewayman.com

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Copyright 2004 - 2008 Anne Wayman