7 Tips for Handling Rejection as a Freelance Writer

As a freelance writer, you’ve probably had your fair share of rejection. Rejection can come in many forms, from kind and constructive feedback to no response at all. No one is immune to the occasional disappointment that comes with rejection. However, there are ways to handle it without losing confidence.

Is Getting Rejection Common as a Freelancer?

There are 73.3 million freelancers in the U.S. in 2023. Almost every industry is competitive and the writing world is no exception. Plenty of people find this part intimidating, as every writer is vocal about the obstacles they experience, including rejection.

Every great journalist, screenwriter, author and content writer has had their fair share of dismissal. It’s even more challenging when you’re self-employed, as having a piece rejected can mean you miss out on payment or an important byline.

Dealing with Rejection in Freelance Writing

With the high frequency of rejections as a freelance writer, it’s a testament to how important it is to stay determined. Some people throw away the pen altogether after feeling discouraged, which usually marks the end of their journey. It’s essential to look at rejection as a way to get better with these seven tips.

1. Take a Deep Breath

Having that initial feeling of sadness when getting rejected is perfectly normal. When getting into freelance writing, you don’t have to turn robotic and bury every negative emotion. It’s understandable to feel some disappointment, as you did work hard on the project.

When you get that rejection letter, the first thing you just need to do is breathe. Read through the email or note, and try to remember the dismissal is not personal in any way, shape or form.

2. Ask for Constructive Feedback

Rejection notes are short and general, with clients saying they might have found someone else for the project or your piece didn’t meet their expectations. Since they’re quite vague, try to ask for some constructive feedback.

Request specifics when seeking feedback so you receive well-thought-out suggestions on the project and know what points you can work on in the future. Plus, it gives you some peace of mind if the final verdict was just a mismatch in tone for their brand.

3. Think About the Silver Lining

While improving your writing, there might be a tiny voice in your head berating you for your previous work. A writer is often their biggest critic, but it’s one thing to coach yourself to do better and another to call yourself an impostor.

Instead of planting self-doubt, practice leading a pura vida mindset or lifestyle. Don’t get caught up in worries or responsibilities. Think of the dismissal as an opportunity to improve in the long run because this is what it truly is. Many people find reciting positive affirmations to be helpful. You can choose a phrase that’s meaningful to you, like “pura vida,” which reminds you to focus on what really matters in life.

4. Revisit Your Written Work

After receiving feedback, head back to your piece. The evaluation can give you a new perspective on your output and you might realize there are some points you can rework to develop.

In addition to revisiting your documents, it’s also good to search online for similar content. Try to find and fill any gaps to make your writing publication ready. Maybe writers had a friendlier tone when discussing the same topic as you did.

5. Improve Your Writing Process

Look at which area of the writing process you can improve on. The past two steps of seeking feedback and looking at other pieces give you information on refining your writing, but it’s time to implement them.

Incorporate comments from others and yourself. You can also reexamine the writing process before submitting again to ensure everything flows and is accurate.

6. Request Resubmission

When you’re done reworking the submission, reread the piece to see the improvements you’ve gone through. Treat it as a mental pat on the back for taking the rejection like a champ and bringing the content to its final form.

Consider returning to the client and requesting a resubmission of the project if they weren’t seeking it already. If you have any more doubts, get a family member or close friend to review your work. Having someone in your corner to cheer you on can motivate you to click send.

7. Rewrite and Submit Elsewhere

If a client or publication won’t accept a resubmission, it’s not the end of the line. You can submit your written piece to another outlet if you’re able to under your contract.

Keep the document as a writing sample if there’s nowhere else for your written work to go. It can come in handy the next time you run into a prospective brand looking for independent writers with experience in that industry.

Accept, Remember and Continue

Freelance writers who can handle rejection can find much success in the industry. It’s a skill that takes time to develop, but its impact on your career is unmatched. Use the tips above and keep writing!

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