The 4 Hidden Rewards of Rejection

I am on sabbatical for the next few weeks. While I am gone, I have asked some of my favorite bloggers to stand in for me. This is a guest post by Michele Cushatt. She is a communicator and storyteller whose speaking experiences include Women of Faith, Focus on the Family, and Compassion International. You can read her blog and follow her on Twitter.

For months I wrestled with a new book idea. I didn’t want another rejection. So I crafted a killer proposal, polished the chapters, and sent it off to a publisher. Then I waited. And waited. The only time I’d gladly wait so long for results is on a deathbed.

The 4 Hidden Rewards of Rejection

Photo courtesy of © iStockphoto.com/JLGutierrez

It’d been six years since I first started writing. Finally, after thousands of hours spent learning, creating, and rewriting, I believed my time had come. My book would be published.

Only that’s not what happened. Within a couple short weeks, I received one more painful rejection to add to my pile. Defeated, I threw myself a five-star pity party and contemplated torching my manuscript in the backyard. Surely flames would make me feel better.

In between tears and rants, I asked myself the same question I torture myself with at least once a week:

Why do I keep doing this to myself? Why, oh why, do I keep writing?!

Of all the crafts to pursue, writing must be the most grueling and least rewarding. I can think of a hundred occupations with much better effort-to-success ratios than this one. Even baseball players post better stats than writers do. And I’m convinced we work harder.

So why did I continue to try? Why did I keep cranking out proposals and posts, when rejection seemed the constant response? I wasn’t sure my ego could take any more hits. I didn’t have enough confidence left to even call it an ego.

It’s been nearly a year since that rejection. I mourned my failure for weeks. But eventually a circle of steadfast cheerleaders—including Michael Hyatt—urged me back into my writing chair. And I tried again.

Only I wasn’t the same writer I was before the rejection. Somehow that “failure,” as big as it seemed, became the groundwork for success. It changed me. I knew my message better, believed it more, and found my voice. All because of one more “no.”

If you’re a writer (or blogger or leader) weary of rejection, you’re not alone. I’ve yet to meet a writer who doesn’t contemplate quitting. But a “no” might actually be a “yes.” It all depends on vantage point.

Resist defeat. Lean in. Why? Because a publishing rejection is packed with the following four rewards:

  1. It Sharpens the Message.
  2. I often receive manuscripts and proposals from in-progress writers asking for advice. One of the most common flaws I encounter is a weak message. The writer hasn’t spent enough time with it, hasn’t sharpened it to a powerful, focused point. It’s stiff, bland, and emotionally distant.

    My proposal had the same flaw. The “no” forced me into a space to refine it, find my voice in it, and make it better.

  3. It Distills Your Motives.
  4. It pains me to admit it, but part of my drive had a less-than worthy motive: I wanted the unpublished monkey off my back. My speaking schedule takes me around the United States, and at every turn someone asks, “How many books do you have out?” I cringe, feeling somehow less-than worthy.

    After this “no,” however, I cared less about public opinion. I wanted to write this book because the message mattered to me. It was worth the honor of my effort, regardless of the publishing outcome.

  5. It Creates More Content.
  6. Author Henry David Thoreau said, “How vain it is to sit down and write when you have not stood up to live.” While you wait to be published, life is being lived. Unfortunately, we spend too much time dreaming of what’s ahead to the exclusion of the incredible stories unfolding in the present.

    Today’s painful circumstances are tomorrow’s killer content. After my painful rejection? I wrote a raw and honest blog post. As of today, it remains one of my most popular posts.

  7. It Strengthens Character.
  8. I know, I know. I get weary of character building, too. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right? The problem is I believe writing could, in fact, kill me. It’s difficult. Exhausting. And frustrating. Death would be easier. But hardship is the surest crafter of character.

    There are no shortcuts to great books and great authors. Life itself is the teacher, and to circumvent the experience of it is to cheapen the end result.

Are you facing a “no”? Go ahead and rant for a while. Maybe torch the rejection letter in the back yard. But then welcome the “no” as a means to a better story.

By the way, I’m shopping that same proposal again. It may or may not sell. But it’s better.  All because of one more “no.”

Question: Have you faced a rejection? What reward was hidden within? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • Geoff Brailey

    Hi,
    Thanks for the encouragement. It’s given me a fresh perspective on rejection. I see it as a chance to refine your purpose and regain your presence.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      That really is the key—seeing it as an opportunity and not an obstacle. Not easily done in the midst of the sting, however!

  • http://thewhitecollarlife.com/ Jake Bauer

    Thanks for the story, Michele, and good luck on your publication this time. Stephen King tells a famous story about how many rejection letters he got before he was finally published. It does seem to be a necessary thing that has many hidden benefits, as you described. I haven’t gotten that far in my writing career yet, but hopefully I have the determination to stick with it through a rejection just like you did.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I got 29 on my first book. Andy Andrews got 52. Looking back, I see it as a bags of honor.
      I only wish I had kept them. Andy has the two worst ones framed and hanging in his office!

      • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

        52?! Andy is a rockstar. I have this particular rejection printed out. Haven’t framed it yet, but I did save it from a fiery death. ;)

        • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

          The crazy thing is that Thomas Nelson rejected him twice before we ultimately published him (thanks to Gail).

          • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

            One more reason to love that wife of yours.

          • http://www.lindalochridge.com/ Linda Lochridge Hoenigsberg

            Thanks, Michelle *smile*

      • http://JonDHarrison.com/ Jonathan Harrison

        Andy’s story is amazing, and a great “kick in the pants” reminder to keep trying when you believe in something!
        I give you & Michele kudos as well – sharing these rejection stories serves to empower the rest of us!

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Thanks, Jake. Yes, it’s a necessary part of the process, even if it’s painful. I’ve heard Michael say numerous times, “Every ‘no’ is one closer to a ‘yes.'” Changing my perspective has *helped* make it easier to handle.

  • rabbimoffic

    Thanks Michele for this powerful and inspiring story. It made me think of the idea that a “no” can be part of a larger “yes.” We take the “no” of rejection and turn into an even bigger “yes” of writing a life-changing book.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Exactly, Evan. Thanks.

    • http://www.thedailyretort.com/ TorConstantino

      Great comment Evan – it reminds of the quote that we never fail until we give up!

      • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

        And … “No gets the final word only when we stop trying.”

        • http://www.thedailyretort.com/ TorConstantino

          Exactly – that quote is billboard/skywriting worthy!!!

      • http://www.alexbarker.org/ Alex Barker

        Never give up! Never surrender! -Tim Allen

  • http://JonDHarrison.com/ Jonathan Harrison

    Great thoughts here Michele – I always enjoy “hearing” your “voice.” I find when I distill my motives (#2) it leads me to a much stronger shapening of the message (#1).

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Thank you, Jonathan. Finding my voice has been my biggest challenge. So you just made my day. :) As for motives, they can be a bit tricky. It usually requires both time and tension to hone in on what’s really driving us.

  • Marcus A. Cylar

    Fantastic! Makes me want to read your book whenever it is published. If it has half the emotion as what you put into this blog post, it’ll be a great read!

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Wow. Thank you, Marcus.

  • http://connectingdotstogod.com/ Judy Allen

    My go-to phrase for handling rejection is, “It’s not denial; it’s direction.” Thank you, Michele, for more tools to apply in the persevering.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Love that, Judy. I’m borrowing it!

  • http://www.kellycombs.com/ Kelly Combs

    What a wonderful post. Rejection has kept me from action at times, because “common sense” says why put myself out there for rejection? It hurts! But I love your post, because every word is true. We grow.

    I like what Robert D Smith (Andy Andrew’s mgr) says about every no being a step toward yes, in his book 20,000 Days and Counting. As a young bookseller, his goal was to get 30 “no’s” a week. Of course, he’d always get a “yes” in there, and have to start all over. It really does change your perspective.

    Best wishes and best of luck on your new proposal, Michele!

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      To shy away from pain is a normal response. To get up and push yourself through it is courageous and extraordinary. I’ve seen you do this, Kelly! Thanks for the encouragement. Grateful for you.

    • http://www.joyjoyg.com/ Joy Groblebe

      I love this Kelly!

    • http://www.thedailyretort.com/ TorConstantino

      Great insight Kelly – I never heard that factoid about Robert D Smith. I guess it really is a “numbers” game, the more shots on goal you take the more shots you make!

    • http://www.alexbarker.org/ Alex Barker

      A goal to get “no”s. Not even close to the way Gen X thinks.

  • Peter G

    As a matter of fact, I am currently facing a major rejection, as I appear to have been blocked from commenting on this blog. Not sure whether this situation distills my motives, but it certainly strengthens my character, and I’m welcoming it as a means to a better story.

  • AmericanWriter

    Great writing first of all: second thought – determine, is it rejection, correction or delay. Delay may occur sometimes when what you are trying to accomplish is either ahead of the curve or behind the curve. Timing is perhaps one of the hardness skills to develop.

    • http://www.thedailyretort.com/ TorConstantino

      Interesting distinctions between rejection, correction and delay AW! I completely agree with you that waiting can be one of the most difficult skills to develop!

  • http://yourlifebetter.net/ Darrell

    Great advice and encouragement Michelle. As a fairly new writer l live in terror of rejection. Stories about others’ triumphs and failures provides needed perspective. Thanks!

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Rejection is, indeed, terrifying. But the more you put yourself out there, the easier it becomes. Not painless, but easier. I promise.

      • http://yourlifebetter.net/ Darrell

        Okay…I’ll hold you to that! Thanks again for the great article.

        • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

          :)

  • http://www.jonathangaby.com/ Jonathan Gaby

    Hi Michelle! This topic is really timely right now, like much of what Michael posts. In job searches and other projects I face rejection often. Years ago, I had been receiving rejection letters from churches I hadn’t even applied to. Boy, that’ll make you question things. You’ve brought up an important part about using the time to refine one’s craft, develop new things, and gain a different perspective. I will admit that sometimes flames are more attractive than persistence, but so is stirring up more passion for the topic, product, or pursuit as well. I’ll probably reread this post again this afternoon.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Ouch. I’m feeling your pain, Jonathan. But I’m so glad you haven’t given up. Your message—and YOU—are worth it.

    • http://www.alexbarker.org/ Alex Barker

      Keep pursuing your ministry! I received 8 rejections this past year from job applications and received the *worst* option out of the 9 I pursued. But it lead to great opportunities, namely finding Michael and this great community.

  • Lindsey

    Thank you for that post! I have just started a blog to try and build my platform after my first attempt at writing a book has gotten several rejections. Sometimes you wonder if it’s worth it – but I have a message that has to get out into this world! So on I go!

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Cheering for you!

      • Lindsey

        Thank you!

  • James Divine

    Thanks Michele. Really needed to hear this. I am in music and music education and often experience the same level of rejection, right now in trying to secure a college teaching position. I also speak/perform and am almost finished with my book. I’m planning on using createspace and self-publishing it.

    God bless,
    James Divine
    http://www.jazzysaxman.com

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      As a musician myself (piano, 35 years), I feel your pain. Music, like writing, is an intimate craft. Showing your art to the world is like turning yourself inside out, isn’t it? Perhaps this is why the rejection feels so personal. Don’t give up, James. You can do this.

      • http://www.thedailyretort.com/ TorConstantino

        Piano too?!? What DON’T you do!?! ;-)

        • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

          Hahaha. Books, apparently. ;) Or at least, not yet. But I’m determined!

          • http://www.thedailyretort.com/ TorConstantino

            …watch out books, here she comes ;-)

  • http://www.findingyourvoiceradio.com/ Joel Boggess

    Ahhh… The agony of defeat. Yep. We can relate with that one. As hard as it may be for some to wrap their heads around, for the most part, a rejection is not a personal attack, (although it still doesn’t feel good).

    Your points Michele are rock-solid. Thank you.

    A “no”can be seen as a “not now” or “try me again later”.

    Talking about mis-steps and false-starts, this blog reminds me of something one of my guests once wrote – When you’re at the bottom, you have reached solid ground. Push off from it.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Oh, wow. Yes, Joel. The bottom IS solid ground to push off from. It helps to have a few faithful supporters to give you the strength to do just that.

  • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

    That fear of rejection keeps me at times frozen in my writing journey. Rejection hurts but it doesn’t halt progress. Fear on the other hand …

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Fear is a beast. Did you happen to read Seth Godin’s post this morning? In it he said, “The fearless person is well aware of the fear she faces. The fear, though, becomes a compass, not a barrier.”

  • http://www.davidsollars.com/ David Sollars

    Michele, your writing immersed me in your struggle, brought the emotional consequences alive for me and shared a story of rejection that I certainly relate to in life and business. I believe those that get back up after a fall, do so with a bolstered passion and conviction that fuels their message. Much success to you on this and future proposals.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Thank you, David.

    • http://www.joyjoyg.com/ Joy Groblebe

      She’s a great writer, isn’t she?

  • http://www.escapingdodge.com/ Ree Klein

    What a fabulous post! I’m heading right over to your site to subscribe because I love the way you write–that book must get published because I want to read it :)

    This year I started a blog (EscapingDodge.com) and I find it impossible to not sit and watch the real time Google Analytics screen. I get all excited when I see “1” show up. I nearly passed out recently when I saw “6” (I know…stop obsessing!).

    I also check the bounce rate throughout the day (my version of counting “no”). After letting bouncers get me depressed, I concluded that each one who comes and decides my content isn’t for them brings someone else closer to showing up and subscribing.

    So I thank them for coming to see what it’s all about even though it’s not for them. I thank each one. They have gotten me to 92 subscribers within less than four months and that, I think, is worthy of celebration!

    Cheers to your nearly-published book!
    Ree

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Yes, it is something worth celebrating! As John Steinbeck said, “The profession of book-writing makes horse racing seem like a solid, stable business.” Press on, Ree, and celebrate every little—or big—success!

    • http://www.joyjoyg.com/ Joy Groblebe

      Ree – I can totally relate. That real time screen is obsessive!!

  • http://www.lindalochridge.com/ Linda Lochridge Hoenigsberg

    Hi Michelle. I can still feel the sting I felt at my first writers conference last March when an agent sitting across the table from me asked “Who cares?” when discussing my pitch of my memoir. But something happened on the way back to my room. My motives for writing became clearer, my passion stronger. I knew I had to define the “who” and it had better not be “me.” But like I said, I can still feel the sting. :)

    • http://www.thedailyretort.com/ TorConstantino

      Yikes – that’s a harsh memory to relive Linda especially when you’re talking about a personal memoir. I know that agents can get jaded but you would think they still had a modicum of tact. Regardless, I applaud your effort to “solider” on!!!

      • http://www.lindalochridge.com/ Linda Lochridge Hoenigsberg

        Yes…can’t say I thought it was a response that was sensitive on a basic level. I was kind of shocked (ok…and humiliated, even). But I also allowed myself to learn a LOT at that conference about what it takes to get published and where I was on the wrong track, and so much about myself and my reactions to others…LOL.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      I remember that well. I’m glad you didn’t let it stop you, Linda.

      • http://www.lindalochridge.com/ Linda Lochridge Hoenigsberg

        Thanks, Michelle! *smile*

  • http://www.authorcynthiaherron.com/ Cynthia Herron

    Michele, I love your heart (and your points in this post). Writing is not for the fainthearted to be sure. While rejection’s never easy, the learning curve is priceless. And I always think of the miracle that could be just around the corner!
    Blessings as you forge ahead!

    • http://www.thedailyretort.com/ TorConstantino

      I love that idea Cynthia that the writing “…learning curve is priceless…” – I totally agree. Personally, I’ve found that the best writers also tend to be the best thinkers and I think that both Michele and Michael help prove that point!

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Thank you, Cynthia!

  • J

    Thanks for the reminder, Michele. My recent ‘redirection’ as my writing mentor calls them, came after working through two requested revisions. I fixed the things requested only to be rejected over something never mentioned as a problem. Sigh. I have to believe it’s all part of God’s plan for where He wants the manuscript to be.

    • http://www.thedailyretort.com/ TorConstantino

      J – that’s a very frustrating scenario. When I used to work in a newsroom, I soon learned to abandon the “pride of authorship” because every assistant producer, executive producer, assistant news director and new director had to read the stories before they aired. Each found something different to criticize/correct along the way. However, it did focus me to be a better writer.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Ugh. Been there, endured that. In fact, it was probably the biggest hurdle to finding my voice. Everyone had different feedback, and I bounced around like a pinball in a pinball machine. There’s great value in listening to editorial voices, and I definitely had much to learn. The trick is knowing which advice to heed and which to ignore. And making sure you don’t lose your unique voice in the process.

  • http://www.buckleadership.wordpress.com/ Justin Buck

    Great reminder, Michele! Recently, I was invited to interview for a position that I badly wanted at a local university. I came recommended by the department chair, had a great chat with the program director who would be my boss, and knocked the interview out of the park.

    Only I didn’t get the position. Your post helps me see the refining work these rejections perform. I wish I could give a happy ending to my story, but it hasn’t come yet. With reminders like these and the ones people of faith can find in the Book of James, I’m coping with the sting of rejection and working to refine my message and pursue my purpose.

    • http://www.thedailyretort.com/ TorConstantino

      Great point Justin – setbacks and delays take many forms; however, our response to those various situations is what dictates our ultimate outcome.

      • http://JonDHarrison.com/ Jonathan Harrison

        This point about response is so true. Statues are not made of individuals who faced no adversity and won, but rather those who struggled and overcame.

  • 48DaysDan

    Michelle,
    Great post – the rewards are instructive if received well. So often I see writers who do not receive helpful criticism well. I don’t blame publishers and agents for just giving categorical rejections rather than helpful comments. In today’s publishing arena a rejection may redirect us, but it should certainly not stop us. Too many stories like those already submitted here about eventual success.

    • http://www.thedailyretort.com/ TorConstantino

      “…a rejection may redirect us, but it should certainly not stop us…” that’s a powerful point Dan, thanks for the encouraging insight!!!

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Thanks, Dan. I should add this particular rejection, although one of the most painful, was also an “ideal” rejection, including detailed insight into the why’s. I didn’t necessarily agree with each point, but the vast majority was spot on. I’m grateful they cared enough to invest the time. A gift.

      • http://www.thedailyretort.com/ TorConstantino

        I like that idea of an “ideal rejection” – which you transformed into a teachable moment for yourself and those you read this post. Brava!!!

  • Zech Newman

    Great stuff Michele. I have learned through rejection to give to people that which was hurting me. To encourage and give hope. To go above and beyond in supporting there dream. It gave me new vision to see how hard it is for others to share things that are a piece of them. It has deppend my message.

    • http://www.thedailyretort.com/ TorConstantino

      Good perspective Zech – I think having a diversity of experiences (including rejections, setbacks and disappointments) are critical to building a meaningful life.

      I recently finished the book “The Adversity Paradox” and it talks about leaders who succeeded in various endeavors despite overwhelming odds.

      In each instance, those leaders said they learned more from their prior failures than their successes.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Nothing deepens compassion like personal pain.

  • http://juliesunne.com/ Julie Sunne

    I needed to hear this, Michelle. Especially from someone who is still in the middle of the rejections. Thank you for redirecting my focus to look at “no” as having positive aspects as well.

    • http://www.thedailyretort.com/ TorConstantino

      I know – how cool is it that she’s writing about this experience while it’s still in process? I’m convinced that Michele will look back to this post in the future and smile once she’s a NYTimes bestseller!

      • http://juliesunne.com/ Julie Sunne

        And we can say we knew her when…:)

      • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

        Ah, nice! I have a cheering section! :)

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      You are in very good company, Julie. When you forget, come back and read the comments. We’re with you!

      • http://juliesunne.com/ Julie Sunne

        Thanks, Michele!

  • http://www.danerickson.net/ Dan Erickson

    I bypassed rejection for now and self-published. I did this for a few reasons.

    1. I know getting an agent and publishing deal can take time, even years, and a writer friend asked me how soon I wanted to share my story. That simple question convinced me that the time is now.

    2. Having the books published gives me a reason to blog, a platform to build, and I have books to sell when I do speaking events.

    3. I’ve never been one to completely play by the rules. I tend to learn them and break them. Sometimes I even break them before I learn them. Yesterday at church, the pastor talked about Abraham as a wanderer, taking action on Faith instead of planning everything out first. I do that sometimes.

    Of course self-publsihing still has it’s forms of rejection. Traditional media sources are still very reluctant to review self-published books. But the whole publishing industry is changing. Self-published authors are gaining more respect and authority. I believe it will only be a matter of time before traditional media sources begin to except and promote quality self-published works. I’m glad to be getting into the game fairly early.

    All this said, my plan is to keep self-publishing. After four or five books I’ll seek a traditional publishing deal. Oh, and I really don’t take rejection too hard. I’m writing to write.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      My team and I considered self-publishing, and it is definitely an option for a couple upcoming projects. But we determined this particular work would be best served by a traditional publishing process, if at all possible. I agree with you—the publishing industry is changing it’s attitude toward self-publishing and that is (for the most part) a good thing.

      You make an excellent point about motive. Writing for the love of the craft takes much of the sting out of rejection. As Anne Lamott says, “The act of writing turns out to be its own reward.”

  • http://www.toodarnhappy.com/ Kim Hall

    Your points are spot on. As much as rejection hurts, whether in writing, relationships, or work, we can blame others/stick our heads in the ground, or we can do the hard work of allowing ourselves to be sharpened and shaped by the experience. I am a better writer, wife, and mom because of the rejection I have embraced. Truly, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and gives you great material. Win!

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      When you’re a writer/speaker, it’s all material. :) Thanks, Kim.

      • http://www.toodarnhappy.com/ Kim Hall

        Absolutely, Michele! To be used with discretion and the family’s blessing, of course, if they are players in the story. A now common theme in our house after some gaffe or learning experience: “Hey, Hon/Mom, this would make a great blog post!”

    • http://JonDHarrison.com/ Jonathan Harrison

      Kim, how great that you can see the benefits – its sad when we go through character building seasons only to find that we’ve lost the plot.
      I think writers have the advantage, in that their craft lends to a natural platform for capturing these lessons.

  • http://www.joyjoyg.com/ Joy Groblebe

    While that was a painful experience, I’m so excited for all the amazing benefits it’s brought to your work and your craft. I’m so proud of how you handled things and crazy over the moon excited for the world to see your book when it’s out. :)

    • http://www.thedailyretort.com/ TorConstantino

      It truly is amazing and Michele is an amazing lady. Her post reminds me of the book “The Adversity Paradox” which talks about leaders who develop mastery via adversity.

      Those leaders all have the following traits in common:
      1. introspection
      2. values-based behaviors
      3. outwardly-exhibited character
      4. purpose/passion
      5. lifelong learner

      Kind of sounds like Michele (and you, btw)….

      • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

        Thank you, Tor. Humbled. I haven’t read yet that book yet, but it sounds excellent. (By the way, you should turn this list into a blog post.)

        • http://www.thedailyretort.com/ TorConstantino

          Great idea!

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      And this is why I love you. :)

  • http://sparkvoice.wordpress.com/ DS

    Really appreciate the way you discuss the motives. Now you know you’re shopping it because you believe the message matters. I think that’s a key – our personal belief and certainty that even if people say “no” we just look for the next opportunity.

    Thanks for that reminder to keep pushing on, and that “no” isn’t the end-all be-all.

    • http://www.thedailyretort.com/ TorConstantino

      Excellent point DS – your comment brings to mind the word “resiliency” – that is a critical skill for any level of success or happiness in life!

      • http://sparkvoice.wordpress.com/ DS

        Great descriptive word!

  • Lynn Barrington

    Oh Michael, I NEEDED this today! I in the midst of writing my second
    book. This time by myself. My first one was a best seller with Carmen
    Renee Berry, my dear friend who was already a best selling author. I
    sent my outline into my agent, thinking it was horrible as it was straight from my soul, and maybe not finished enough, and he really
    liked it and encouraged me. I was in shock…and figured out a great
    truth. As long as I am staying true to my message, that’s from my soul, it will stay on course. (It’s when I try to rewrite and edit from the left side
    to organize…that I sometimes get off.)It’s a challenge, but I am confident that God has opened this door (after 15 years, I might add), and I AM walking all the way through it.

    • http://www.thedailyretort.com/ TorConstantino

      Lynn, isn’t Michael awesome for allowing such a great guest post from Michele?

      I had the pleasure of working with Michele for a week last year on a project – she is truly a special individual! One of a kind!

  • Heather C Button

    This is a great reminder. I remember defending my Architectural thesis and they came back with revisions (design), unlike the clear acceptance that I really was after. But after a weekend of crashing post-defense, where I recovered from the stress building up to it, I realized that they were trying to make my thesis stronger, rather than accept something meh. In the end I was glad for the push, because I’m happier with the minor design changes than I was with what I presented at my defense. I think the same thing will be true of publishing for me, that every time I get a ‘no’ because it’s not clear enough, it will push me harder to get it right.

    • http://www.thedailyretort.com/ TorConstantino

      Great point Heather – our bones literally health back stronger in the broken places from over calcification!! That concept also applies to our tenacity and writing!

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      I had the same realization. They were FOR me, not against me. As a result, my proposal is far better than it was. Sounds crazy, but I’m relieved it didn’t go forward as it was.

      • Heather C Button

        It doesn’t sound crazy.

  • http://www.thedailyretort.com/ TorConstantino

    Awesome message Michele – so inspiring! You’ve packed so many powerful lessons in this post it could be an ebook in its own right, absolutely fantastic stuff. BTW, I love that quote from Thoreau – I’d never heard that one before!!!

    • http://JonDHarrison.com/ Jonathan Harrison

      That’s a great Idea, Tor – I’d love to see that become a reality!

  • http://www.faughnfamily.com/ Adam Faughn

    One of the hardest things about rejection is then hearing, “Now, don’t take this personally.” I hate that sentiment, because, if we really love what we are writing (or recording, etc.), it IS personal. We have poured so much of ourselves into it, that we must take it personally. Your post, though, reminds us to use that to grow personally, not just take it as a “knock” against us. Great reminder!

    • http://www.thedailyretort.com/ TorConstantino

      You nailed it Adam – that is indeed a challenge, the “pride of authorship” is a sticky wicket to be sure. One of the best ways I’ve tried to handle that type of critique is by mentally putting myself in the position of an unbiased, “third party” observer – to try and listen to the suggestions as positive input. It’s tricky but can be done…

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Haha. “Don’t take this personally…” and “It’s good, but…” both make me cringe. ;)

  • http://forthisisthetime.com/ Esther Aspling

    Great post Michele! :-)

    I think I’ve spent a lot of time just not moving out of fear of rejection. But the desire to improve myself must outweigh that fear.

    http://forthisisthetime.com

    • http://www.thedailyretort.com/ TorConstantino

      I agree Esther, fear of rejection and failure has stolen many golden opportunities from me. However, when my first child was born – that served as a “reboot” to my thinking that helped me see the brevity and preciousness of life and that I couldn’t waste anymore time worrying about fear.

    • http://JonDHarrison.com/ Jonathan Harrison

      I know how that feels Ester – being a people pleaser can really have its own set of struggles.
      Have you heard of Jared Easley’s Podcast “Starve the Doubts”? He’s done some excellent interviews and has some really great thoughts about overcoming fear.
      You can learn about his approach (and how it lead to him meeting Michael Hyatt) form my post today – http://jondharrison.com/2013/06/23/life-changers-jared-easley-starve-the-doubts/

      • http://forthisisthetime.com/ Esther Aspling

        Thanks Jon. I just checked out your site. I’ve done some resume writing as well, it’s so fun! I love the comments I get back from prospective employers from those I’ve written for. :-)

        • http://JonDHarrison.com/ Jonathan Harrison

          That is powerful feedback, to be sure! By the way, I loved your post about Monsters University.

          • http://forthisisthetime.com/ Esther Aspling

            lol, thanks! Kind of a light day :-)

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      I’ve watched you, Esther, and you’re tenacity is inspiring. You’re doing it!

      • http://forthisisthetime.com/ Esther Aspling

        Thanks Michele :-)

  • http://www.5toolgroup.com/ Jay Oza

    Michelle,

    I think this is the best post I read today. You share a lot here that we can takeaway. Thanks.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Thank you, Jay!

  • Jennifer Jodziewicz

    Thank you for this insightful article! As a great compliment to this post, there is a GREAT book that just came out, by Dr. Tracey Mitchell called Downside Up, about transforming your thoughts on rejection into your golden opportunity. http://www.traceymitchell.com/Downside-Up.html.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Looks like a great book, Jennifer. Is Dr. Mitchell a friend of yours? How did you come across the book?

      • Jennifer Jodziewicz

        HI Michelle! Yes, Tracey and I know each other from the Dallas Chapter of Christian Women in Media Association. She had a book launch at our quarterly meeting last week, and was the keynote speaker. I’ve heard her speak on the topic several times now, and the book itself goes deeper than a talk ever could. It really does help turn that word ‘rejection’ from a ‘downer’ word to a word that presents opportunities and redirects our life toward the positive. Thanks for asking! :-)

  • Lynn Hare

    Michael, awesome post. I am incredibly grateful for the times I’ve been rejected. It gave me an opportunity to practice the presence of the Holy Spirit elsewhere, where He was already at work. I was in deep communion with God in a different place – and I allowed that to become a better place where I looked for God and found Him.

  • Kay

    Michelle, I can so identify with your post. I’m in process of writing yet another killer proposal and hoping this one will be met with acceptance rather than rejection, but I’ve gotten more “no’s” than “yes’s” thus far. And my message has indeed solidified, taken on new life. And for once, I’m doggedly determined to get the message out there more than I am to be picked up by a publisher. Great points!

  • theresamilstein

    This excellent. Thank you. I’m at the 7-year mark. Recently, I received news that made me hit a wall. I wanted to quit. But I’m querying through it, writing through it, and still holding out hope. I get better with each manuscript I write. Besides, I’ve devoted to much time to give up now. The part about writing killing me made me laugh. Yeah, it feels like that sometimes.

    • http://dreamjobprogram.com/ Drew Tewell

      Paul Angone is a friend of mine who has a book coming out July 1st. It was a seven year journey for him too. He writes about it here: http://www.lifeaftercollege.org/blog/2013/05/20/the-secret-to-overnight-success/

      • theresamilstein

        Thanks, Drew.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      If the writing itself doesn’t kill me, the banging my head against my screen might. ;)

  • Mrs. Paul

    I read this post…the post “Sharp Edges”…the post “When God Asks the Impossible”…tears flowing. You are an inspiration because you aren’t a quitter, but rather an overcomer. I believe I am being called to write. I can’t even get myself to the place of submitting a short piece. I am used to all forms and arenas of rejection and don’t believe that is the root issue. Rather, I find myself afraid to call anything “finished.” I am full of ideas that are carefully logged in a file on my laptop and am now finding it difficult to even begin the process of turning letters into words, paragraphs and pages, because, at some point, those pages will have to be declared “finished.” Crazy the hindrances we allow to keep us from following hard in obedience after the tasks laid before us! Thank you for the example of moving forward!

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      I can relate. I have about 30 blog drafts I don’t yet have the courage to post. I’m a mess. :) But we press on. I’m with you, Mrs. Paul.

  • http://www.davebratcher.com/ Dave Bratcher

    I am reminded of what happened to me a little over two years ago. I was met with the words, “You’re fired.” This sent my world into a tail spin, but by the grace of God I was only without a paycheck for 11 days. Today, I can look back and confidently say… “Thank you!” The amount I learned has been incredible. I started blogging about a year ago at http://www.davebratcher.com and it is beginning to really grow. As Billy Graham famously said, “The fruit is grown in the valley not on the mountain top.” Thanks for sharing and encouraging.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Thank you for sharing your story here, Dave. Others have experienced similar circumstances, and your honesty in talking about it and commitment to moving forward gives them the courage to do the same. That’s leadership.

  • Beverly Coots

    Thank you. Your post encourages me to see another side of rejection.

  • http://kimanziconstable.com/ kimanzi constable

    Great post Michele, wow! I’m glad you got back up and are moving forward, you’ll find that publisher. When I self-published my first book and only sold 5 copies I was crushed and quit writing for two weeks, I needed that. It changed my perspective and caused me to really focus, the results have been amazing ever since :)

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Such a kind compliment coming from you, Kimanzi. You’ve worked so hard and accomplished much. Thank you!

  • Renee Swope

    Michele!! This is such a powerful post. So vulnerable, so real. Your voice comes through so clear, filled with emotion we can all relate to. Im so excited about what God has planned for you AND your book! Thank you for sitting across the table today, and sharing the raw, piercing pain of rejection in publishing and what it does to our hearts.

    Reading through over 120 comments, it’s obvious you and Michael have created a safe place for 1000s to say – “Yea, me too but I don’t have to let rejection defeat or define me. I can learn from it and let is make my message that much stronger!”

    So blessed and honored to call you friend!

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Ah, Renee my friend! Thank you for this encouraging word. You are a gift, and I’m so glad you didn’t let the wrecking ball have the last word in your life. It’s good to be in this together.

  • Jim Martin

    Michele, this is an outstanding post. Your four rewards at the end are very helpful and encouraging. Your post has value way beyond publishing. It really speaks to rejection and disappointment on a variety of fronts that many of us know too well. Thanks!

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Thank you, Jim. I’m so glad it encouraged beyond the publishing spectrum.

  • http://asmithblog.com/ asmithblog

    Early on in my career, I received rejection in the form of applying for different jobs. But, you know what it did? It made me take a step back and recraft my resume. In the end, I had a resume that I was happy with and ended up getting the job that I desired. Thanks for this reminder, Michele.

  • http://www.alexbarker.org/ Alex Barker

    Eight rejections in one year. That’s how many hospitals said no to my application. Because of their rejection, I found the job that I did. I discovered podcasts because of my long commute.
    Because of the amazing content of people like Michael Hyatt, I was able to launch my website, and start a new phase of life: entrepreneur. Never have I felt so alive.

    • http://JonDHarrison.com/ Jonathan Harrison

      Powerful story Alex! Talk about unforeseen benefits!

      • http://www.alexbarker.org/ Alex Barker

        Thanks Jon. It took reading this post to put into words how my rejections lead to a more fulfilling life

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      What a story! Thanks for sharing it, Alex.

    • http://launchyourgenius.com/ Harish Kumar

      Inspiring story, Alex!

      I think that when we stay at our discomfort zone and perhaps even get rejected and fail, we are still developing novel skills that we would have not otherwise developed. We get better at networking, speaking, presenting, managing…the list goes on. I think that no interaction or experience is a waste of time since it adds in science terms: myelination to our neurons or in other words strengthens skills and pathways! Listening to stories such as yours gives me great reassurance that we are indeed building up block-by-block into something more awesome. :)
      My 2 cents worth.
      All the very best.
      Harish

      • http://www.alexbarker.org/ Alex Barker

        I agree Harish, life is what you make of it. I’ve had thousands of opportunities to waste my career. It’s people like you and Mr. Hyatt that bring life to others. I believe that is the best career.

        • http://launchyourgenius.com/ Harish Kumar

          Thanks a lot for your kind words, Alex!
          Stay inspired,
          Harish

  • Sarah Malcangi

    One of the best posts I’ve read Michele!!! Most likely because I can relate with it so well. I love your attitude and will be reminding myself of this as I begin to submit a new proposal.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Thank you, Sarah. Is the proposal finished? Excited for you.

      • Sarah Malcangi

        Thank you! Well before reading this I would say yes but I think maybe I need to work on it a little more to make sure I’m clear in my purpose.

  • http://www.tammyhelfrich.com/ Tammy Helfrich

    I always appreciate your honest words of wisdom and encouragement.

  • The Aggrieved Grammarian

    Dear Michele,

    Please don’t use the term “end result.” All results are at the end of the given endeavor. This is a redundant term.

    Also, it is not necessary to say “In between..” “Between” will suffice.

    That is all.

  • http://launchyourgenius.com/ Harish Kumar

    Hi Michele,
    Thanks for a wonderful post! I think that everyone who wants to write and publish a book should read your post! I recently wrote in a blog post about Kathryn Stockett, the author of Help. Kathryn Stockett took five years to complete the book and was rejected 60 times before it got published. The book has since sold more than 5 million copies and has stayed on best sellers lists for many weeks.

    I think that we are primed and taught how to be successful but we are never instructed on how to manage and be all right with failure. In science research, most experiments end up failing and quite quickly the experimenter understands that failure is not an anomaly but the way of life. In science, failure and rejection are truly stepping stones for greater sharpening of the message or focus as you so eloquently put it. The cliche about Edison and failed experiments as different ways of not doing something is actually very true!

    I believe that we can all greatly benefit by changing the lens that we view failure with and treat it as an experiment. We need failure clubs that encourage people to try and fail and offer support. :)

    Thanks,
    Harish

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      I didn’t know that about Kathryn Stockett. Thanks for sharing her story, Harish. Encouraging for all of us! You’re right—so much emphasis is put on finding success that we often fail to learn how to fail. The only way to improve is by learning what not to do. And it takes some sort of “failure” to make the discovery.

  • http://www.lilykreitinger.com/ Lily Kreitinger

    Michele, you’re an inspiration as a faith-filled woman, wife, mom, blogger, speaker and author. Rejection is always painful, no matter where it comes from. Today you have given all of us reading a reason to stay focused and keep on keeping on.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Thank you, dear Lily. Grateful for you. :)

  • http://www.livebeyondawesome.com/ Jen McDonough “The Iron Jen”

    Michele,

    What an absolute treat to read! HA! I loved your blunt honesty: “Today’s painful circumstances are tomorrow’s killer content.” HA! Love it!

    Thanks for sharing. It is a GREAT reminder to keep pushing forward!!!
    Live Beyond Awesome!
    Jen

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      This is not the first time I’ve been called blunt! I choose to think of it as “direct.” Haha.

  • Karen Clayton

    I feel your pain. My 13-year-old son and I co-authored a middle grade urban fantasy. We had lots of rejections. They were either all very positive by pointing out all the good things about the book or plain form letters. Finally, we had two agents suggest that we age up the main character. We took their advice somewhat and aged him up a year. Still, we didn’t fair any better. So then what? We decided just for grins we’d go it alone. I wanted my son to get a bit of an idea about the publishing world and see his hard work actually pay off. We just released the book this month. If anyone is interested in our bio or the story, then here is the links. We are still working on our webpage.

    https://www.createspace.com/4190049
    http://www.amazon.com/dp/0989098605

  • Alex Heffron

    Great post. Love this. I am too often impatient myself. I keep expecting myself to be so much better than I am but then I haven’t been writing very long, and I still a lot more life experience! And yes, the thought of more character building puts me off slightly, I like to think I’ve had enough of that!! Haha how little I know…