I’ve been freelance writing for nearly five years. The problem is, most of my work has come from referrals or through content mills. This means, I have very little experience with the pitching process. That all changed recently. I decided that I needed to take myself and my work seriously, to truly work for myself as a freelance writer. This meant no more sitting back and thumbing through projects on a content site that paid pennies per word, but to truly go out there, send off pitches, submit pieces for publication, and see what would happen. It was exhilarating to look at what jobs were available and to develop pitch ideas. I enjoyed finding sites and researching what they wanted. And I had more fun going through and creating articles that I thought some of these sites would like. THIS is what writers do, I thought. Writers write and try to sell their words. Writers hope that someone out there will read their words and think they’re good enough to pay for them. And writers also face rejection.
Rejection is exactly what I’ve been dealing with lately. This week, I have received two rejection letters and numerous response deadlines have passed. Many writers will know, the passed deadlines are a rejection letter of their own, but instead of a nice letter encouraging another future submission, it’s silence. A silence that fills you with questioning doubt. Was my writing so bad they couldn’t even draft a letter? Am I worth it? Why am I doing this?
Rejection is an inevitability of this business. Not everyone will want to buy your words. It’s true, just as I don’t want to buy everybody else’s words (though my bookshelves might make you think otherwise). Writers know that rejection will come. But there’s still something about rejection that rips at your soul. It’s not the actual rejection that is so terrible, it’s the feeling of rejection that tears you apart. The feeling of rejection is a grotesque sticky ball of ink that tries to reach inside the writer to convince them they’re not good enough to be a writer. It goes hand in hand with Fear. Fear is what keeps us writers away from finishing a project, submitting a pitch, or sending off a final draft. Fear can be so bad that it can keep a writer from even starting a project. It makes us question our worth and efforts, “Can I even write what I want to write?” We fear the feeling of rejection, and allow that fear to keep us from our dreams.
I have decided that I’m going to look at rejection differently. I will not let it win. Instead, I will look at rejection as a victory. Each letter is a trophy showing that I have overcome Fear and allowed my words to be sent off somewhere to be read, regardless of the outcome. I allowed myself to be vulnerable. I took a chance. And that rejection letter is far more character building than sitting around daydreaming of being a writer. Each rejection letter is proof that I AM a writer. In Stephen King’s On Writing he has a story of the massive number of rejection letters he received, and look at where he is now. If a prolific writer such as King was able to collect his rejections and carry on without giving up, then so can I.
I will keep on writing. I will keep submitting projects. And I will be victorious.