How to cope when your writing’s rejected

I thought I was being dramatic the other day when a client showed disinterest (that’s putting it nicely) in a blog post I had written for them, and I felt a pang in my chest.

It turns out that rejection has a very close link with physical pain in the brain, as well as lowering your IQ, destroying your self-esteem and creating surges of anger and aggression (not a good day for Abi…).

After my heart rate had slowed and I’d realised that the world wasn’t destined for an implosion (dramatic, I did say), I decided that I needed to devise a step-by-step process to accept and action rejection. Then I thought I would share it with you all because… well, that’s the sort of world we live in now.

1. Context

First of all, it’s important to understand that, in a writing capacity, it’s not you as a person being rejected (most of the time anyway…). And even though it hurts your heart just as bad, your writing isn’t a reflection on you as a person and it simply can’t be perfect every time.

In my scenario, the piece which received a ‘nay’ instead of a ‘yay’ was a case study blog post, which needed to reflect the brand, encompass the project and appeal to prospective customers. All whilst adopting the brand’s tone and style and maintaining the conversational approach of a blog.

Nothing too unexpected from a copywriting brief, but writing is subjective, through and through. It’s personal and it comes down to taste. If we all liked the same thing, life would be pretty boring, wouldn’t it?

2. Feedback

Once you’ve dusted yourself off and wiped away the tears, it’s always a great idea to ask for feedback. You need to understand why your piece wasn’t ‘right’ in the client’s eyes, what they liked, what they didn’t like, any detail at all to help you get an understanding as to where you took the wrong path.

Was it off brief? Wrong tone? Poor writing? This is only going to help build up your skills and enable you to grow as a professional writer. I went a little too informal and missed the tone, tried to crack a few too many (clearly unfunny) jokes, and it just wasn’t what the client was looking for.

3. Try, try and try again

Fortunately, in my case, the client and I have a long working relationship and we tried again with this job. I took on board the feedback provided, pushed the little self-demonising voice in my head to one side, and produced a piece which received a ‘That’s more like it!’ The fire in my belly reignited and it put a big, fat grin on my face.

I love a happy ending. Of course, it’s not always possible to submit a second version and sometimes we just have to accept that it’s done. However, the copy game is a brutal one at times and a thick skin, and perseverance, are necessary to get anywhere.

As long as you get some feedback and use this to develop your skills, then you can look at it as a win. And if the client won’t provide feedback, well they just weren’t that interested anyway. Move on.

I like to think of it this way: rejection and criticism are signs that you haven’t stayed safe. You’ve dared to try something outside of the box. The odd bit of rejection can actually be quite a positive signal. Think of it this way, if you don’t ever experience rejection, are you really exploring outside of your comfort zone?

As Walt Disney said, “You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.”

N.B. Dear Client, if you’re reading this, please be overly British and polite and never bring this up in conversation, ever. Ta.

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