How to Handle Criticism and Rejection Gracefully

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Carla Tensuan

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Just like crafting amazing content, dealing with criticism and rejection is part of writing. It can sting, though, especially when you put your heart into a piece.

This post will help you navigate those challenging moments. We’ll talk about handling your emotions, learning from feedback, and even seeing criticism and rejection as a stepping stone to success. By the end, you’ll learn how to turn criticism into fuel for your writing and keep growing as a freelance writer.

Understanding criticism and rejection in freelance writing

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Writers often go through a rollercoaster of emotions, facing rejection and criticism along the way. But here’s the good news: these are normal and encountered by even the most experienced freelance writers. Don’t worry; it’s not a personal attack but about improving your writing! Every successful writer has been rejected at some point, so remember, it’s not a reflection of your skills or worth.

Sometimes, rejection happens because your offer isn’t what the client needs. Maybe they were looking for a different tone or a more specific type of content. It’s not because your writing is terrible! Writing quality can also be subjective. What one client loves, another might not.

Your value as a person isn’t tied to your writing. Criticism isn’t a personal attack. It’s a chance to learn and grow. By separating feedback from your self-worth, you can use edits, comments, and suggestions to improve your writing and become a more resilient freelancer.

Managing emotional responses to criticism and rejection

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Freelancing means facing rejection at times, and that’s fine. Feeling upset or disappointed is okay, so give yourself a moment to acknowledge those feelings. But don’t dwell on them. Set a time limit to process your emotions, and then consciously move forward. Recall when feedback or rejection helped you improve—focus on those successes!

Believe in your ability to grow and adapt. If you can, ask for feedback on the rejected work to see what you can do better next time. Celebrate every step you take forward, no matter how small. This keeps you motivated.

Taking care of yourself is vital, too. Do things you enjoy, like working out or engaging in your favorite hobbies. Talk to other writers or a mentor for encouragement and a fresh perspective. Sharing your experiences can be a big help. Lastly, set small goals and gradually work your way up to build your confidence and make it easier to bounce back from rejection.

Improving your craft with constructive feedback

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Use constructive feedback to improve your skills. In this section, we’ll discuss actively listening to client critiques and feedback, teach you how to analyze it effectively, and show you where to find valuable sources for ongoing improvement.

Get better feedback, write better

Do you want to improve your writing? Here’s the secret: listen closely to what your clients tell you and ask questions. These actions show you care and want to deliver precisely what they need. You can improve your communication and write better pieces by paying attention to unspoken cues and potential issues. Keep in mind that clear communication is the key to freelance success!

Feedback: Your writing ally

Feedback can be a powerful tool for growing, especially for freelance writers. Writing is subjective, so feedback isn’t a personal attack but a chance to learn. When you receive feedback, listen and avoid getting defensive. Think about it objectively. Is it a helpful critique or someone’s preference? This will help you decide how to improve your writing, whether meeting a client’s expectations or developing your style.

Finding great feedback

Getting feedback is a process. Look for online writing communities or hire an editor or coach for personalized advice. Workshops and courses can also be great for getting insights from experienced instructors. No matter where you get feedback, keep an open mind and separate your feelings from the critique. By doing this, you’ll use feedback to improve your skills and become a stronger writer.

Moving forward: Turning criticism and rejection into opportunity

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Rejection stings, but it doesn’t have to stop you in your tracks. Instead, view it as a chance to learn and grow.  Look for specific feedback offered by the editor or client. Was there a mismatch in tone? Did the information need to be structured differently? Use this knowledge to refine your future pitches and submissions.

Even if the feedback isn’t detailed, you can still learn from the experience. Ask yourself what you might have done differently and how to strengthen your writing for the next opportunity. Analyze the rejection objectively, detaching your emotions and using it as fuel to improve your craft.

Here are other steps you can take to turn client rejection into learning opportunities:

Expand your network and seek new opportunities

Rejection is an invitation to broaden your horizons. Expanding your network is crucial. Engage actively in writer groups and industry events. A simple exchange of business cards can open doors to new professional opportunities.

Your network is your net worth in freelancing. Embrace social media for leisure and as a platform for showcasing your skills and connecting with potential clients. Through these interactions, you build not just contacts but relationships that could lead to future projects.

Create a positive routine

Establishing a routine can significantly enhance your productivity and mental well-being. Start by setting specific times for writing and pitching, and incorporate positive rituals like a morning walk or coffee before you begin your work. These activities aren’t just tasks; they’re part of a ritual that prepares you mentally for the day. This structured approach not only helps manage time effectively but also reduces the stress associated with rejection.

Celebrate small victories

Every step forward is a freelancing victory. Celebrate small milestones, whether receiving a positive response to a pitch or completing a challenging project. These celebrations reinforce your belief in your abilities and motivate you to achieve your goals. Each rejection brings you closer to success, and acknowledging your progress is critical in maintaining a positive outlook and a growth mindset.


Freelance writing can be challenging, but with the right mindset and strategies, you can thrive. Here are the takeaways:

  • Criticism and rejection are your friends. Learn from them and use them to improve.
  • Embrace challenges. See them as opportunities to grow.
  • Build your network. Connect with other writers for support and advice.
  • Celebrate small wins. Stay motivated and keep moving forward.

Being a freelance writer is a constant learning experience. By embracing challenges and celebrating victories, you’ll be well on your way to achieving your writing goals.

About the author

Carla Tensuan is a freelance writer, editor, and communications specialist. She specializes in crafting creative copy, blog content, and press releases. She enjoys listening to podcasts, reading books, and practicing yoga in her free time. She lives with her husband in Manila, Philippines.