by Xochitl Dixon
In An Introduction to Christian Writing, Ethel Herr wrote: “Writing without an audience is therapy. Writing that reaches an audience is communication.”
Though not all writers have the desire to publish, some of us feel led to share the words God gives us to write. Communicators who choose traditional publishing quickly discover that rejection is an inevitable and invaluable part of our writing journey.
Don’t get me wrong. I know that every no, not yet, and not here stings. But receiving those answers can become easier and even exciting, as God adjusts our definition of a successful communicator.
God can help us recognize the following rewards of rejection:
- Our first rejection proves we had the courage to risk taking that initial step of faith.
Modern technology provides opportunities to share our words with readers through self-publishing, blogging, or posts on social media. But if the Lord steers us toward traditional publishing online, in magazines, or in books, rejections can become signs of obedience and answers from God.
If the Lord says no, we can be sure He has reasons. Instead of giving up, we can seek support through a network of likeminded writers and ask God to help us continue to improve our craft. He’ll give us the courage and faith we need to obey when He reveals the next step He wants us to take, even if it leads to another rejection. (2 Corinthians 5:7)
- Rejection prepares us to risk failure with courage and strengthens our faith.
Failure is not a final destination. Failing can be a good thing that doesn’t need to be feared . . . when viewed as a learning opportunity that can initiate growth. Years ago, I encouraged my youngest son to try something difficult, explaining every rejection is a notch in our experience resume.
“You don’t understand, Mom,” Xavier said. “You’re used to rejection.”
After a good giggle, I assured him God can use rejection to toughen our armor on the road of preparation.
When we’re prepared to face failure, even when we’re afraid, we’re strengthening our faith-muscles every time we try again. (Hebrews 10:32-39)
- Rejection keeps us on God’s perfectly planned path.
In 2001, I asked God to help me share His truth and love to the ends of the earth. I prayed for guidance, finished my first children’s picture book and my YA novel. I accepted every submission opportunity the Lord provided. Each rejection and acceptance directed my steps toward studying nonfiction writing.
God’s deliberate delays and detours equipped me for the unexpected privilege of serving as a devotional writer for Our Daily Bread Ministries . . . fifteen years after my 2001 prayer.
That YA novel won an award for best unpublished teen contemporary fiction in 2017, but remains unpublished. That children’s picture book lost in its category in that same contest, but was contracted in 2018 and will be released on August 4, 2020.
Trusting the Lord’s preordained plan requires patience and submission to His yes and His no. Our surrender and obedience can lead toward learning and publishing opportunities we never dreamed possible, in genres we never planned to explore. (Proverbs 16:9)
- Rejections reveal and can adjust our motives.
When we place pleasing God above our desire for publication, every rejection becomes a loving redirection from the Lord. We’ll experience discouragement and will need to process disappointment. But our reactions when God doesn’t give us what we want will reveal our true motives.
As we delight in our relationship with the Lord, He changes the desires of our hearts so that we want what He wants. By inviting Him to take charge, we’re loving God and trusting He loves us, understands our weaknesses, cares about our dreams, and wants the best for us . . . even when that best includes rejection. (Psalm 37:3-4)
- Rejection helps us rely on God, as He redefines success as surrender to His will.
Working on a project, whether it’s a 230-word devotion or a 230-page manuscript, requires determination, diligence, and dependence on God. The writing process is physically and emotionally tough. I face fears, doubts, and insecurities every time I start a new project, reach the mid-point, submit, edit, and submit again. I’ve talked to multi-published and award-winning authors who assure me I’m not alone.
Every rejection reminds us of our smallness, our weaknesses, and our need for complete dependence on and submission to God. (Psalm 40:1-8)
“Success means loving God so much that we write whatever He puts on our hearts and let Him do with it whatever He designs.” (Ethel Herr, An Introduction to Christian Writing)
Praying for our readers throughout our process reminds us our purpose reaches beyond ourselves. When we worship God through writing, we can place knowing, loving, and serving Him first. If we allow Him to, the Lord will align our steps with the pace and path He has planned for us.
As traditionally published authors, we will continue to work through the wait and feel the sting of every no, not yet, and not here, no matter how much experience we gain. But we can also learn to recognize and appreciate the wonderful rewards of rejection.
Xochitl Dixon, author of Waiting for God: Trusting Daily in God’s Plan and Pace (2019) and the children’s picture book Different Like Me (August 4, 2020), serves God as a speaker and contributing writer for Our Daily Bread (2015-Current), Guideposts’ All God’s Creatures (2018-2021), Second-Chance Dogs (2018), and God Hears Her (2017). Celebrating the differences and sameness of God’s beautifully diverse family, Xochitl promotes loving God and others as He loves us. She enjoys serving Jesus with her service dog, Callie, encouraging writers, hanging out with her husband, Alan, and sons, AJ and Xavier, and connecting with readers at www.xedixon.com.