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How to Manage Silence and Rejection as a Freelance Writer

"Every timeI thought I was rejected from something good, I was actually being re-directed to something better" —Steve Maraboli

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The stagnant periods freelance writers face can be deafening. We spend hours writing material, provoking pitches only to be faced with silence and rejections from editors. We have chosen one of the most challenging, and competitive fields to break into and at times, our mental health tends to go under-looked. Of course, for some, the rejection can be motivating forcing them to come up with bigger and better ideas. However, after times it can be draining and it’s easy to fall into a spiral of negative thoughts and insecurities. My family and friends have no idea the amount of work that goes into getting something published, the dozens of pitches I thoughtfully craft together, and short stories I spend my days on. It can almost feel as though no one understands the true mental health impact that comes with the art of writing. The headaches we face after staring at a computer screen for hours, and that sometimes we forget to reply because we are so busy trying to create the next best piece that could hopefully change our lives and career. It can be lonely when no one understands, and even more isolating to sit alone reading, writing and editing. We are our biggest critics.

Our society is based on the idea that we must hustle until we reach our goals, that breaks are for quitters, and that every second you’re not working, someone else is taking away an opportunity for you. However, this way of thinking is toxic and we must relax and give our minds a break. We will always face rejection, silence, pressures to succeed, and of course a constant comparison to other more established writers. Finding strategies to manage our mental health during these demoralizing periods is crucial. 

Below are ways I try to cope with the silence and rejection faced as a freelance writer. 

1) Delete The Email App Off Your Phone 

There are days where I’m waiting for an editor to reply and I check my email every five minutes to only receive nothing. It is insanely frustrating and hurtful for one’s ego. It’s as though you’re waiting for a message from your crush only to see that they left you on read. I’ve found that deleting the email app off my phone allows me to be less fixated on receiving replies. There’s a saying that says, “A watched pot never boils” which absolutely relates to waiting for an editor to reply or a piece to get published. When I check my emails obsessively, I tend to be disappointed versus when I wait a few hours, I am more often pleasantly surprised. This teaches patience, a skill you must have in this industry. 

2)  Come Up With New Ideas And Pitches 

So, an editor hasn’t replied in a week, or worse you’ve been left with silence? It’s time to start working on a new idea. Study the publication you’re interested in pitching to and gain an understanding on their style, target audience, and content they produce. This will give you a much higher chance of getting a pitch accepted! 

3) Distract Yourself With Something Other Than Writing 

You can’t spend all your time writing because then you will reach burnout and exhaustion. There has to be a balance in the activities you partake in. For example, going on a walk in order to get some fresh air can do wonders. Sometimes talking to a friend on the phone can clear your mind, or even cooking. For myself, these aspects are all strategies I use to get myself out of a rut when I’m not receiving the responses I want from editors, or are experiencing writer’s block. If you spend all day being fixated on pitching, writing and checking your emails, you will become miserable, and writing will soon feel like a chore. So, after reading this article, turn your computer off, disable all notifications, cook a delicious meal, or go on a nature walk. You deserve a break. 

4) Remember Nothing Is Instant

You need to constantly remind yourself that good things take time. There are two affirmations I always play in my mind that help me get through these difficult times, “What is meant for me shall come to me” and “When one door closes, another will open.” Remember, if you keep persevering your hard work will soon pay off. 

So applaud yourself for having the guts to put your thoughts on paper and send them out. Every time you write, you only improve, and with each rejection you become a stronger person. I promise one day it will get easier.

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More on Mental Health on Campus:

What Campus Mental Health Centers Are Doing to Keep Up With Student Need

If You’re a Student Who’s Struggling With Mental Health, These 7 Tips Will Help

The Hidden Stress of RAs in the Student Mental Health Crisis

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