6 Ways to cope with rejection as a writer (because of Bad Grammar)

It is never easy to cope with rejection. It comes across as a slap on the face, a pricking of dreams, a gust of wind blowing away the castles-in-the-air that we build. And this is true of all the things in which we have to face the big R. In love, for a job, for a visa…anything that involves ‘making an application’ involves a risk of rejection.

But there is a breed of people for whom ‘rejection’ is a rather more commonplace occurrence. That’s right – Writers. The life of a writer is strewn with rejections – from magazines, from publishers, from agents, and sometimes, if you somehow get past all these, from readers, who simply refuse to buy your book.

Now there are a number of reasons why your writing might be rejected. Sometimes the subject is not in consonance with what the magazine or website is looking for in that particular month, sometimes it’s simply a matter of not standing out among a large number of submissions. The best thing to do in such cases is to submit elsewhere, to a place that is more likely to be accepting of the genre and style you write in.


But how do you cope with rejection if the publisher clearly indicates that it is due to a flaw in your writing itself? More specifically, in how you use the language?

When it comes to using the language, understanding the way it should be used is of paramount importance. That’s what often differentiates a good writer from a bad one, regardless of the actual commercial success that you may receive. SO how would cope with such a rejection?

Keep calm and do not respond

It is tempting to react in anger to a rejection letter, whether as a reply to the magazine or by posting the rejection on social media. Please avoid this – you only come off as immature, no matter how rudely the rejection may have been written. If you must respond, a polite ‘Thank you for your response’ is all that is required. Remember, it is not a rejection of you, or even of your work. It is simply a rejection of this specific piece of writing.

Understand whether it is justified

As a writer you need to be aware of your own strengths and weaknesses. Keep in mind that generally if a rejection letter specifically says the editor / agent had issues with the grammar, it probably means that you need to improve, since that is not something that will be said without some grain of truth in it.

Assess what you can do to improve your grammar

It usually helps to have learned English at a high level for a number of years, but if you have not been thus privileged, do not despair. There are a number of things you can do to improve your grammar skills. Resolve to improve yourself as a writer and as a user of your chosen language.

Improve your reading level

You might read interviews of authors claiming that they do not read. They are either lying or are not very good writers to being with. Start reading novels by international authors, and try to go beyond romance and thriller writers for books that deal with more complex themes. Not because you need to write differently, but because these books tend to be written better. And take some time out to go through the preparation books for the GMAT exam, especially the verbal ability section. It is very insightful and if studied rigorously will be a crash course in correct language usage

Find a good beta reader

As we have mentioned before on this site, the value of a beta reader who is himself or herself a good writer cannot be underestimate. Find yourself someone who will read your work and be brutally honest in assessing it. Let that first level of rejection come from someone you know before you send it to a magazine editor or similar.

Keep writing

And lastly, in no circumstances whatsoever should you stop writing. No matter how poor you are as a writer today, it is only by continuing to write that you will get better. For no matter where you are today, it is only by looking forward and trusting in your abilities that you can reach where you want to!

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Kunal is an ex-banker with a (largely self-proclaimed) flair for writing. He is an associate member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India and an MBA from Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS), Mumbai.

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