Rejection is Good for Your Writing

A new article in discusses a study that shows scientific papers that are initially rejected ultimately have a greater impact in the long run:

Just had your paper rejected? Don’t worry — that might boost its ultimate citation tally. An excavation of scientific papers’ usually hidden prepublication trajectories from journal to journal has found that papers published after having first been rejected elsewhere receive significantly more citations on average than ones accepted on first submission.

Of course, scientific papers aren’t screenplays, but the trend holds true.

Rejection is an essential part of the writing process. Your ideas, your individual scenes, and your lines of dialogue will all be picked at and turned down countless times before your screenplay is ultimately accepted. But those mini and major rejections shouldn’t get you down — they should empower you to learn from what you’ve done so far and press forward.

Nothing is ever perfect from the start. It’s often said in the writing world, but many of us still haven’t gotten the message through our thick skulls:


We all want our script to be perfect the instant that we set our ideas down on paper, but they never are. And that holds true whether you’re writing your very first script or you’re Aaron Sorkin:


So whether you have the wisdom to find the flaws in your own writing or a reader does the honors for you, those initial rejections will ultimately make your script the best that it can be.

The trick is

  1. Not losing heart, and
  2. Finding what does work — the morsels and tidbits, the core concepts and ideas that are irrefutably solid within a rejected draft. Find those, focus in on them, and bring the rejected portions of your material up to that standard.

If you can figure out how to do that, you’ll turn that “no” into a resounding “yes” — a “yes” you’d never be able to get without first embracing rejection.

4 thoughts on “Rejection is Good for Your Writing

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  1. Reblogged this on Nina Fang and commented:
    This is so true. Rejection is good for writing. If you don’t get used to it, then you just never know when you’re really good or not (that’s what I think anyway)

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