5 Reasons You Should Embrace Rejection

Image of Rejection Stamp

Chances are, you read the title of this post and huffed, “I hate rejection! Rejection, I will dance upon your grave!”

The good news is that you’ll never stop experiencing rejection, so you won’t have to be shining up your dancing shoes anytime soon.

Wait — did I say the good news?

I did. In my career as a magazine writer, book author, content marketer, blogger, and copywriter, I’ve been rejected well over 500 times. Yes, I counted.

But instead of seeing “no-thank-yous” as a sign that I should just give up and get a real job, I see them as a tool for boosting my career success.

Here are five reasons to consider rejection your bestest friend …

#1. Rejection teaches you how to stop being rejected

In the late 90s, I was trying without success to break into the national women’s magazines. Every pitch was met with rejection.

Then, one day, I received an email from an editor at Woman’s Day. She said she liked my query — in fact, she wanted my permission to showcase it at a writers’ conference as a pitch that was almost-but-not-quite there — but that I didn’t do enough research on the topic. Why don’t I expand on the idea and send it to her again?

So I did a few interviews, added some quotes to my pitch, included a few examples of what I would include in the article, and turned it in.

Behold! My first women’s magazine assignment.

And I went on to write for Woman’s Day again, and also sold more than a dozen ideas to Family Circle (and became their highest-paid writer) using my new, well-researched query approach.

Of course, not all rejections will be full of friendly tips from prospects, but you can learn even from boilerplate “No thanks” responses.

For example, if you’re getting a lot of these impersonal rejections, that’s a sign you’re doing something wrong and need to reconsider your approach. Something about your letter of introduction, pitch, offer, or samples may be lacking.

#2. Rejection allows you into an exclusive, world class club

Ever hear of The 4-Hour Workweek — you know, that New York Times bestseller that created a worldwide movement to work less and earn more? Author Tim Ferriss was rebuffed 26 times before he found a publisher willing to take him on.

Stephen King’s first novel, Carrie, was turned down 30 times. King was so frustrated he chucked his manuscript into the trash. His wife fished it out and encouraged him to submit it just one more time.

JK Rowling suffered countless rejections before scoring a hit with the Harry Potter series. She’s now one of the richest people in Britain.

Take heart that the rich and famous have been where you are right now, fielding no-thank-yous left and right. When you get rejected, you have something in common with the most successful writers out there.

#3. Rejection demolishes your competition

I cannot even tell you how many wannabe writers I hear from who gave up in the face of rejection.

That makes me sad, but it offers an advantage for you: The more writers out there who let “no’s” stop them, the more opportunity there will be for you to land those content writing gigs.

In other words: Fewer writers = less competition. Yay, right?

#4. Rejection helps you cut through the crap

Think of rejection as clearing the path towards your best successes.

All those prospects who are turning down your content writing offers — they’re just obstacles you need to get past before you finally reach the prospects who will hire you.

Every rejection brings you that much closer to an acceptance. Think of those famous failures we just talked about. What if Tim Ferriss had stopped at rebuff #26, or Stephen King had given up for real at #30?

They were at their final rejections, people!

Who knows which will be the final rejection on your current marketing campaign? If you’re learning from rejection and tweaking your copy and offer in response, chances are you’re getting pretty close.

#5. Rejection brings you better clients

My take on rejection is that if someone turns me down, that means we wouldn’t be a good fit.

Sayonara, sucker!

You may be thinking — especially if you’re a newish writer — that any client would be a good client, but believe me (I know from experience) that there is such a thing as a bad client, and that you don’t want one.

So the ones who turn you down? They’re sparing you from slogging through an assignment for a client that isn’t a match for you in work style, writing style, pay, or PITA (that’s Pain In The A**) level.

Even better: When you get a rejection from one prospect, that leaves room for better ones to enter your life. (Why yes, I do believe in all that woo-woo energy stuff!)

Over to you …


Why do you love (or hate) rejection? Are you on the verge of giving up?

Can you see how rejection can be used as an ally in your work, instead of merely a hard bump in the road?

Let me know in the comments!

About the Author: Linda Formichelli has written for close to 150 magazines since 1997 — including Redbook, USA Weekend, Writer's Digest, Inc., and Fitness — and more than two dozen copywriting and content marketing clients. Today (October 10) at 12 noon Eastern Time, Linda is launching her ebook Write Your Way Out of the Rat Race...And Step Into a Career You Love, which will help you leave the 9-5 to pursue the career of your dreams. Click on that link to be the first to know about the limited-time low-price offer Linda has in store!

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Comments

  1. Thanks so much for having me on your blog today! i look forward to reading everyone’s comments.

    • Always enjoy your posts, Linda. :)

    • Hi Linda, I’m so glad to bump into your post today and yes, I bought your e-book! Can’t wait to start reading it on my Kindle. Thank you so much for this post!

      I have a love-hate relationship with rejection, but I must say being rejected every now and then made me who I am today. I still somewhat fear rejection but taking it a lot better these days and with gusto!

  2. I love my job, but I just purchased your book. What a great deal.

    I love point #3. Whenever I’m doing something hard, I remember that this same task is a moat that will weed out my competitors.

  3. Rejection is part of life (especially for an entrepreneur). I became more comfortable with rejection a few years ago when I got a job as a outbound telemarketer.

  4. Rejection is just a fact of life. As a direct response copywriter, I’m only as good as my last promotion. If it doesn’t perform well, I could be rejected and replaced by a different copywriter. I can’t do much about that, other than to do my best with everything I write. And if rejection comes, I just try to learn from the experience and move on.

  5. Linda,

    Great to see you on Copyblogger.

    You will get this, given your board game connections. I still have a folder with all the rejections letters from the late 80′s for a board game I made called “Contract”.

    I think of rejections are like milestones on the way to success.

    I went on to self published GiftTRAP in 2006. I got the idea almost 20 years later when my daughter asked how does Santa pick gifts.

    Great post – Rejection should just make you try harder. The trick is to learn from the feedback but don’t carry it like luggage through life.

  6. “Every rejection brings you that much closer to an acceptance.” This speaks to more than writing proposals, it speaks to life. It’s easy to feel like rejection is one more brick building a wall between you and your goals, when each rejection could actually be a rung in the ladder to success. Thanks for sharing, Linda!

  7. Rejection is inevitable when you seek to do bold things.

    But having a solid community behind you can do wonders for helping you stay sane in the face of rejection.

    There’s nothing quite like having people around who know exactly what you are going through.

    Which is why we all love Copyblogger so much!

    -Jake

  8. A timely piece Linda. You’re right! I almost didn’t read past the title but you showed the positive aspects and any opportunity to ‘cut through the crap’ is fine by me – so thanks for that :) xx

  9. Seeing the “bad” in unpleasant situations can indeed emphasize the opportunities, at the same time. I believe it all depends on our personal approach and endurance. I, for one, am confident in my own potential and refuse to give up when times are rough. And right now, it’s not all rainbows and butterflies on my side of the (content creation) world.

    Your article couldn’t have come at a better time. Many thanks!

  10. I work with novelists, and dealing with rejection is as big an issue among them as it is among copywriters.

    Thanks for a blog whose URL I’ll save — because if we change “client” to “publisher,” all this advice is perfect for fiction writers too!

  11. Hi Linda,

    As a designer I face rejection on a daily basis … some clients are a wee bit nicer than others though ;)

    Funny I wrote a post about this today based on a TV show and what the show’s producer can teach us about creativity and getting big things done. Basically having the Chutzpah and creative courage needed to see things through.

    A HUGE part of this is learning to embrace rejection!

    I like creative souls with tenacity and I rather like this post ;)

    Thank you, Linda.

    And yes, rejection does indeed bring you better clients.

  12. My biggest rejecter — is me! I’ve got good stuff. Why do I reject myself so easily?

    I’m working on conquering myself!

    • YES! That’s so common, to reject yourself by not getting your work out there because it’s “not good enough.” Instead of second-guessing yourself, send out your writing and let the clients decide.

      • miguel sanchez :

        I’ve just emerged out of the “my work isn’t good enough” mindset I’ve existed in for nearly 7 years. I can’t even begin to explain how exhilarating and empowering it is to honestly value your work and the unique perspective your work comes from.

  13. Fearing rejection means you’re keeping secrets – an invisible wall between you and your family, friends and clients alike.

    Embracing rejection yields better results, especially that rejection is a fact of life, unless … if you don’t resolve what to be (and act on it), you will never be rejected, but you’ll never get to be your true self either.

    Not saying embracing rejection is the greatest thing in life, but given the alternative to being rejected is to be defeated or ignored (or both) – rather makes it a no-brainer, doesn’t it?

    I agree particularly with your benefit #5.

    Cheers,
    Beat

  14. Linda
    This is a good article with an easy read format. I especially like the examples you gave. One of my hot buttons as a business coach and social media strategist is that far too many people are stopped by the “fear of rejection”. I’m going to blog on the Fear of Rejection Monday, October 14. I’m going to link to your article. I don’t expect you to read it but if you do get a chance, let me know what you think. My goal is to get people to stopped worrying about rejection and get on with enjoying what they’re good at.
    Julie Musial

  15. I French-kiss rejection! #JustSayin #LeaveAMemorableComment

  16. Excellent article that has got me thinking…

    Every rejection gets you closer to the goal. Your article shares time-tested wisdom. I read, then re-read, then re-read again the book “Think and Grow Rich”. The story of the boy born with no ears and was told by every doctor he would never hear, but if you do not know the story, you can imagine the ending, but better yet, read the book and fuel your passion to overcome these knowledge lessons we call “rejection”.

  17. I think rejection can make you stronger, depending on how you respond to it – if you react in a positive way, it can teach you not to let your happiness and self-esteem depend on the approval of others.

  18. Rejection is tough, no two ways about it. I try to be optimistic, and one of the most important characteristics of a successful writer (I was told) is persistence. You seem to be right on that target with this advice!

  19. Linda,

    This article was both well-written and informative. I can’t say I like rejection but believe it is important. When things come to easy to us, we don’t work as hard as we could or should. Points 1 and 5 were particularly insightful. Too many of us think every client, customer or potential employer is good but it isn’t true. Thanks for sharing.

  20. Love this post, it has helped me stay motivated! I dare to test out a scenario that has a 50/50 chance of rejection; will you hire an enthusiastic and talented young Australian writer aka ME? :)

  21. Hi Linda,

    a friend sent me the link to this article and imagine my surprise when I found that you were here!

    Rejection is a part of life.

    Congratulations on your new book by the way.

  22. I hate rejection but am learning to embrace it. When it comes, see what it has to tell you. Thanks for the great reminder Linda.

  23. Number five really shows how looking at the big picture can help with rejection. Rejection is just a momentary thing in the great scheme of things.

  24. I was just getting past the hurdle of rejecting my own work; so great to remember that now that I’m starting to Love my own work probably not everyone else will. Ho hum; it can only help me grow ;)

  25. Hi Linda, I was surprised to see your name at the bottom of the article. :) I’m one of your fans. Great article, thank you for sharing! :)

  26. A very insightful post! When people hear the word REJECTION a negative notion comes into mind. Your post, Linda, is definitely an eye-opener. This is just what we need. Rejection is part of our lives after all, so why not face it and deal with it accordingly, right?

    Among the 5, the 4th reason is the most noteworthy for me. Rejections are like obstacles or stepping stones leading to a more meaningful and successful career.

    Your post taught me a lot why I should embrace rejection. Thank you for sharing this post, Linda.

    I found this post shared on Kingged.com, the Internet marketing social news site, and I “kingged” it and left this comment.

  27. Linda,
    Thanks for sharing this.
    The information you’ve shared here is timely and timeless.
    I shared my experience of rejection in my blog post: http://www.bryceedem.wordpress.com, entitled, ‘Say Yes To No.’
    Thank you so much for talking to me.

  28. Thanks Linda. I just read an archived Tom Clancy interview. He said that persistence is a writer’s greatest talent. Your article about prompts me to reframe the negative feelings attached to rejection and to adopt the glass half full attitude. It is an uncomfortable but necessary process that can become a learning opportunity. At the very least, it can be one more small step that brings me closer to a desired goal.

  29. A very interesting take on rejection – a neccessary and unavoidable part of life. Most freelancers face rejection in life and the best approach is to make the best of any such situations and learn from them for the future.

  30. Hi Linda!

    I always enjoy to read about this topic ’cause is timeless. Dealing with rejection is something we all need to learn and remember.

    As a salesperson I face rejection everyday. I still remember how I felt the first time (and the next 50 or 100)… It gets easier when you learn is not about you as a person, is not that you are bad. When you take the emotion away, you learn to be more objective, and that give you the opportunity to review what you are doing to make it better.

    Thank you Linda!

    Psst… my favorite tip was #3

  31. Linda, one of my favorite quotes of all time is from Richard Bach: “A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” What an excellent post that shows writers how to use rejection to their advantage – not just muddle through it.

  32. Hi Linda,

    After doing this bit for 5 years I have learned this: you can be a millionaire or even billionaire, deep down….but you just need to keep asking, to keep creating to keep connecting, to keep going.

    All these people were brilliant BEFORE they became famous and made millions.

    They just needed to allow the wealth into their lives.

    Thanks!

    Ryan Biddulph

  33. I received a story rejection earlier today. It was the first time I’ve received rejection WITH feedback.

    This story was previously published and made it to the short list of a national fiction writing competition. Yet, I still felt the deflation of rejection. My defenses slammed down and that little-girl hurt bloomed in the face of criticism. Yet, after the first sting of “No” and ripping off the Band-Aid to read the reasons why, I’m so grateful for the constructive criticism. I learned something about my style, more about the writer I am and the writer I am working to become.

    Thank you for these clear, pithy and affirming statements. And thank you for believing in the “woo–woo stuff”! I wrote a blog post earlier this week on facing criticism and I’ve just pinged back to your post. http://www.chalkthesun.org Your timing is perfect for this writer!

  34. Wisdom galore!

    I haven’t dealt with rejection well in the past. I almost quit writing after an editor at a women’s magazine I had previously written for rejected my pitch, twice! #1 resonates.

    I almost didn’t read this post when I saw the word REJECTION :) But, I’m so glad I did.

    This post is a mind-opener as I get back on track with my writing. It’s has definitely equipped me with a vital approach. “I can and I will”.

    Thanks Linda.

  35. Very compelling stories.

    I think, this is just me, that people are overly sensitive about everything now n’ days.

    Why do people take, “No were not interested.” Personally? It’s nothing against you, so who cares?

    I will have to share this with my friend that hates rejection!

  36. great article.

    the wall (rejection) exists to stop others.

    rejection can be the best feedback you can get.

    i would even say, if there is no rejection you’re not growing.

  37. Hi Linda – an interesting post. I’ve been in sales for most of my working life and a piece of advice I was given early on really helped me deal with rejection. It was this.
    Look at the ‘Nos’ as a process of getting to the ‘Yeses’. In sales terms, if you know that it takes 9 Nos to get to a yes, then all you have to do is to get through the Nos quickly. You fail your way to success. It has worked for me ever since.

    • Yes, I’ve heard that same piece of advice in terms of sales, and I always took it to heart! Figure out your success rate and then know you need to get through X number of rejections to make a sale.

  38. I think that you will have to taste failure/rejection before you can taste success. Rejection is merely a requirement for success and it gives us an opportunity to learn from our mistakes and move on.

  39. I’ve seen a lot of new bloggers close down shop because of rejection and negative feedback. It happens to bloggers in all types of instances. Some bloggers cannot handle it while other blogging strategically integrate it into their blogging futures. When I first started blogging and making websites, I suffered from a lot of rejection. However, I used that rejection to improve and essentially rose to the top in many of my markets. I have put forums in the top 5 lists in bloated niche markets, I have the largest social network in a meteorology-related niche and my blogs are read by many. Rejection is your friend! Great post…

  40. This post is a great reminder to never give up.

  41. I guess constant rejection is here to stay. I have been rejected in different situations, however what I have learnt during those times is that our character is often made up not by our actions but by our reactions. We can chose to stay rejected, or take these times to grow.
    One really important aspect I have learnt and seen in others who grow through these times is to…….never reject yourself:-) keep believing in yourself. Don’t allow other peoples opinions of you, give you a low self esteem.
    Thanks for such a helpful blog, I really enjoyed reading it.

  42. Rejection is hard. I’ve just started up a new business venture and have staked a lot on the line to make it succeed. This month alone I’ve sent out something in the region of 100 proposals to different companies, and so far have only had negative responses.

    My grandmother used to say to me that he who fails must try, try, and try again. Whilst it’s not always that easy to motivate yourself (and words are just that, words) you need to look at the most successful people you know and admire… did they get lucky? No, they simple worked hard, worked better, and didn’t accept rejections.

  43. Rejection always hurts, even if you learn to deal with it — but it starts to hurt less. The best way I found to deal with it is to always have other queries in the pipeline. Relying on a single query means you’ve tied all your expectations to the result of that one lonely query. Creative people are emotional people.

    If you keep sending out new queries to multiple targets (and hopefully keep improving your queries), you haven’t tied expectations to any of them. So it’ll hurt a lot less on a query-by-query basis. If you always have queries in the pipeline, rejection hurts a lot less.

  44. Great advice. I definitely try to keep in mind that a rejection just means it wasn’t a good fit. But I will now go back and look at my rejections through your #1 suggestion to see how I can make my proposals stronger. Thanks!

  45. I am new to outside sales and yes have had a lot of rejections, but have found they make the non-rejections so much sweeter….those people know what I do….I have a fabulous product!

    • Michele – It gets easier too.

      I always tell young people who want to go into business that they should get a job selling something nobody really wants. Just to get used to dealing with rejection.

      I also tell people sales is a bit like asking someone on a date. Just because the person says no doesn’t mean that you are a bad person, that the person won’t say yes later, or that you are not wanted by anyone else. It just means it’s not the right time for that one person.

      -Jake

  46. Learning to embrace rejection has been a tough lesson for me, so this article has been a great reminder!

    Your personal example of counting 500 rejections is inspiring! Also the examples of Stephen King and JK Rowling, among countless other writers who have had to wade through rejection letters…. really, really helps!

    I found you through Twitter and I favorited your article, as this is one I need to come back to a few more times, to really let it sink in – thanks!

  47. Linda Formichelli, not only is this critically accurate; it is true for most rejection in life! “A rejection from one prospect leaves room for better ones to enter your life. Rejection is a sign you’re doing something wrong and need to reconsider your approach. You have something in common with the most successful (people) out there. The more who let “no’s” stop them, the more opportunity for others. Rejection clears the path towards your best successes. If someone turns me down, that means we wouldn’t be a good fit. What if Tim Ferriss had stopped at rebuff #26, or Stephen King had given up at #30? They were at their final rejections.”~ Linda Formichelli—TOUCHE

  48. Linda,
    Great article. Rejection can chip away at confidence and self belief and I believe that most ‘creatives’ are quite sensitive souls! Thanks for your well crafted article, which demonstrates the way rejection can be viewed in a different light. I seem to remember JK Rowling’s tale of the boy wizard was rejected eleven times before it was picked up by Bloomsbury. So, as you say, we are a very elite band of scribblers, even if writing about centrifugal pumps and mirrors is not as exciting as Harry, Hogwarts and Hagrid. I have printed out this article and kept it next to my fridge magnet ‘Never, ever ever give up (Winston Churchill). Thank you.