#Writers, why fear of rejection shouldn’t stop you

Fear of rejection holds us back more than we know. It’s the ominous voice in our head that tells us we aren’t good enough. It’s the crushing weight of self-doubt that prevents us from moving forward.

I know. I’ve been there.

Rejection_Shailaja_Published_Huffington_Post

In May this year, I made up my mind that I’d start sending my written work to publications, e-zines, blogging platforms and consciously work past the idea that rejection was bad.

Deciding to pitch published posts first seemed like a good idea so I began there. Looking at my work, I worked through the pieces and found the ones that I thought had resonated the most with me while I’d written them as well as the ones that had touched a chord with readers.

On the 23rd of May, a day before my blog turned two, I was excited to be featured on the BlogHer home page. Soon after, I was flabbergasted to see that WordPress Discover had featured me. Blog Adda reached out to have me speak on depression and mental health.

Earlier this week, I pitched a piece to The Huffington Post. It was a parenting post I’d written a couple of months ago on my blog. Half a day, I went back and forth, chewing my lip, wondering if I should even do this. All kinds of doubts plagued me:

  1. What if it isn’t good enough?
  2. What if I never hear back?
  3. What if the blow to my self-confidence is so bad that I will never feel like writing another piece, ever again?

The friend I’d reached out to assured me that this was the right thing to do. ‘I believe in your writing’, she said. After drafting the e-mail and some nail biting, my fingers nervously hit ‘send’. Almost on instinct, I shut the laptop and walked away after that.

That was at 6:15 p.m.

It was anyway time for me to prep dinner, finish up a few chores, get the kid to bed and wind up for the night. I logged in after 9 p.m. to glance once at all my social media updates and casually clicked on the e-mail icon.

That’s when I saw it.

8:26 p.m. Arianna Huffington had replied to my e-mail.

Nearly dropping my phone, I stood there, eyes widening in shock. Wait, what? Arianna Huffington had replied? What did she think? Oh god, it was so bad that she was turning it down. I knew it!

Fingers shaking, I opened the e-mail and was overwhelmed to see that she’d loved the post and would be happy to feature my voice on Huffington Post. An editor would get in touch shortly, she concluded.

Excitement coursing through every fibre, I immediately dialled my husband and told him the news. Soon after, I went to bed, my heart basking in the glow of absolute joy.

The next morning I was thrilled to note that I’d now been added to their author platform and could start submitting and publishing my posts right away! With that, my first ever post on the global platform of Huffington Post is now live:

12 things I want my child to remember

A special joy enveloped me as I saw this staring back at me from the web page.

Shailaja_HuffPost_Author

The new platform allows you to share your posts immediately through your social media channels. I did very tentatively and was beyond amazed to note that in a day, it had crossed 600 likes on Facebook. This is also largely due to my incredible friends, family and fellow bloggers who generously shared the post with their networks.

5 Lessons from the experience:

  1. Step out of the fear zone and try something. You’ll surprise yourself.
  2. Rejection is good. It helps you grow. It helps you keep pushing yourself.
  3. Critique, if you get any, is perfect. It means that someone cared enough to tell you why your work didn’t fit.
  4. Remember that a rejection does not mean that you’re bad. It just means that your writing wasn’t right for that publication, at that point in time.
  5. Surround yourself with friends who will help you through a rejection. That helps. Immeasurably so.

Keep writing. Keep pitching. Keep putting your work out there for the world to see. You may find yourself smiling more often.

I’ve only just begun to pitch my work for paid publications, so wish me luck and here’s hoping I can share something on that as well with you all soon.

*Disclosure: I e-mailed a pitch and my blog post to Huffington Post and am now on their new contributor platform, Athena. You can read a complete overview of what this means, over here.

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32 thoughts on “#Writers, why fear of rejection shouldn’t stop you

  1. So well written, and congratulations on publication.

    I seek to collect rejections: that’s the only way I get anything published, and how I got my agent 🙂

    1. You are an inspiration in your own right, Damyanti and a stellar writer, without question. I remember feeling excited and thrilled for you when I saw the note about the agent and you deserve it, every bit of it. Thank you for all your support. It means a lot! 🙂

  2. I must admit I am still trying to work through this fear. Apart from the fact that I am exhausted to come up with article ideas, there is also a fear of rejection. But I did submit a short story last week so I am working through it!
    Sanch @ Sanch Writes recently penned this post True ColoursMy Profile

  3. HI Shailaja,
    Once again I find so much meaning in what you have to say.
    The fear of rejection is something that raises its tiny little head every time I hit the publish button, but the thrill that follows makes the rollercoaster ride worth.
    I am sure many like me find encouragement in what your blog.
    Regards,Jahnavi.
    http://www.jahnavilaungani.com

  4. Oh wow, that was a post that made me happy reading:-) So thrilled for you dear Shailaja- you are brave, talented and inspirational:-) Go for it – they are lucky to have you onboard and its great that your voice will reach a broader audience:-) All the best:-) Hugs
    Eli recently penned this post Yes, of course it hurtsMy Profile

  5. Good tips there, Shy. I hope more people benefit from it and are not scared to put their work out there. Good luck on the paid pitches too. Just remember that acceptance or rejection, each one is a step forward in the journey of writing.

  6. These tips are just perfect! Specially the point about the critiques, it’s really difficult to get someone one to tell you what exactly is wrong with your post. Even if you get someone to do so, the next difficulty is accepting your mistakes!

  7. Woo hoo congratulations. Yours is such an honeat from the heart post Shailaja. I mean, who doesn’t have the fear of rejection? You echoed most of our thoughts here. Getting published in a well known publucation is a step forward in any writing journey. This piece is an inspiration to scared/lazy people to step out and take the plunge :-).

  8. You know, Shailaja, earlier I was in a hurry for ‘things’ to happen. Then one day, I sat myself down and had a good chat with the writer in me – drilled some sense into her head! I also read that post on rejections you shared that day. And I felt enlightened! And stress free! Now I am prepared for rejections galore! Coz I know that is what will get me to my goals. ..some day! I know, it will! 😊
    Hugs and congrats to you, babe, for your remarkable achievements! You so deserve it all…and much more! ❤

  9. Hi Shailaja, I just roundtripped from your HuffPost article. How do you pitch? Could you do an article in future on how to pitch? And please keep me in the loop when you post that. Congratulations!

    1. Hi Sandip!

      Thank you so much for checking out the HuffPo article and leaving a comment there too 🙂

      I’m still working on pitches but will definitely share the ones that work when something clicks 🙂 For now, I just google ‘Pitch your work to magazines’ and go with the best results. Will try and see if I can share some links for you.
      Shailaja recently penned this post #Writers, why fear of rejection shouldn’t stop youMy Profile

  10. J.K. Rowling was rejected for Harry Potter by 12 publishing houses before Bloomsbury finally took her on for the book. (You know, Harry Potter that’s the best selling book series in history now). Never give up.

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