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Coping With Rejection as a Freelance Writer

Updated on October 24, 2010

It pays to have a thick skin if you're planning to become a freelance writer. For all of the pitches and job applications that you send out, chances are that only a fraction of these will ever see the light of day in print or online. You might receive a polite "Thanks, but it's not quite right for us" from some editors, but there's also a good chance that you'll be met with resounding silence and feel like your efforts are going straight into a black hole. Not surprisingly, this can make you feel incredibly frustrated and dejected, and there will undoubtedly be times when you question your writing ability and whether you're really cut out for the freelancing game. 

Coping With Rejection

Rejection is one of the big downsides of being a freelancer, but it doesn't need to be overwhelming. Here are some ways that you can overcome the negative emotions associated with it.

Think about your successes. It's easy and perhaps inevitable to feel like you're a big failure if your pitches and/or job applications are consistently missing the mark but one way to counteract this is to focus your thoughts on the positives that you've achieved - the articles that you're particularly proud of or the publications that you were thrilled to break into. These kind of successes are the biggest indicators that you're not a failure and you have indeed got what it takes to make it as a freelance writer.

Put things into perspective. If you're pitching to competitive publications (glossy magazines or big-name publications), you're going to be up against a lot of other freelance writers, and the same goes for most freelance writing jobs. You could be passed over for any number of reasons and these could be completely out of your hands. For example, maybe a different freelancer pitched an idea that was along very similar lines to yours and got in there first, the timing isn't quite right or there isn't enough of a budget to use a new (to the editor, at least) freelance writer at that moment in time. The bottom line? Don't take it personally. In a lot of cases, it's not necessarily a sign that your ideas are rubbish and you might well find that what isn't suitable for one publication will be snapped up by another, maybe not straight away.

Assess your pitches. While the rejection may be little or nothing to do with you, there is a possibility that you're not getting things quite right. Maybe you're pitching ideas that don't fit the tone of the publication that you're looking to break into or you've got the right tone but are pitching ideas that they wouldn't look to cover. When you've got your heart set on cracking a particular publication, it's easy to fall into the trap of desperately trying to make your idea fit the publication when it could work much better elsewhere. If you're in any doubt, get a more experienced freelance writer or editor to look over your pitch(es) and offer advice on where you might be going wrong. Sometimes it can take an outside eye to see the possible mistakes that you might be making.

Don't throw in the towel. Hopefully by now you've realized that rejection isn't a definite sign that you should give up freelancing. Sure, your idea may not be right for one market but it could be perfect for another. Now it's your job to track down that market and blow them away with your pitch. If you're getting regular rejections or silences from particular markets, now is a good time to start broadening your horizons and finding different places to pitch to so that you've got a better chance of getting a commission.


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    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      Well written and I confirm your statement that you have to have a thick skin.