Pick up any writer’s magazine or “how to” book about freelance writing off the bookstore racks and there’s a strong chance it’ll have a story about how writers can deal with rejection from editors.
These grim little articles are usually accompanied by depressing graphics of dark storm clouds hanging over the dejected writer’s head.
I’ve always been puzzled by this supposed phenomenon of “writer’s rejection” because I’ve never experienced it. Never. In fact, I’ve often wondered if perhaps I wasn’t some form of low-level sociopath because I’ve never felt that awful sting of rejection that I’ve read about in so many writing books and magazines.
The purported symptoms of “writer’s rejection” range from disappointment to devastation. And from damage to one’s self-esteem to a bruised ego. The list of reactions to “writer’s rejection” goes on . . . anger . . . pain . . . bitterness . . . you get the idea.
Well, it turns out I’m not a sociopath. While holding my annual Travel Writing & Photography Master Class in Seattle, one of my travel writing peers, James Ullrich, gave a presentation to my writers about his experiences breaking into travel writing. He briefly touched on the subject of writer’s rejection.
James is one of the ten elite travel writers featured in my recent eBook, Rock Star Travel Writers. He’s been well published in top shelf magazines and has other streams of income including as a psychologist, and as a tour guide for Rick Steves. Curious about my lack of emotional response to “writer’s rejection”, I asked James point blank if he thought I was a sociopath.
James didn’t even blink as he answered, “You were a fully formed adult when you entered travel writing (I started at age 53), so you handle rejection better than most younger people“.
He added, “You’ve been a professional writer right from the start, and you expected rejection to be part of the process.” And finally he told me, “You’re not a touchy feely kind of guy, so you don’t take it personally when your queries are rejected or when you don’t hear back from editors.”
My lack of emotion when I see a rejection email from a magazine editor finally made perfect sense when he explained all this. And I sure was happy to hear that I’m not a sociopath!
How about you? Do you feel devastated when an editor rejects your pitches or does not respond to your queries? Or have you, too, come to terms with rejection, and accepted that it’s simply part-and-parcel of the freelance writing game?
Successful travel writers have certain characteristics in common. Check out these vital traits of successful travel writers and see how you measure up: