Thursday, May 21, 2009

Overcome Rejection The BIKE Lady’s Way

By Jackie Dishner

Since 2005, when I began publicly sharing my bike story—how I dealt with a three-year divorce from the seat of my bicycle—I’ve been known as The BIKE Lady. I developed what I call a "spiritual navigation tool," transforming what was once a metal bike into the mental one.

My bike became an acronym for finding your Best self, Inner strength, Killer instinct, and Expressive voice—what I believe to be the four elements of who you are at your very core. I believe once you know what you’re all about deep inside, you can overcome any obstacle. In fact, you can turn that obstacle into an opportunity.

My special brand of BIKE revealed itself to me because of the rejection I dealt with during a marriage gone bad. But I was able to put that rejection—and how I dealt with it—to good use in my writing career. I learned rejection is not necessarily a two-letter-word. That NO can be turned into a YES.

We’ll take it one letter at a time:

Best self

So you pitched that really great idea to a really great publication that pays really great money. But this really great everything soured when you received this editor's response: "Sorry, this doesn’t fit our needs." Do you take that personally? Do you let the rejection sting you into paralysis? How about letting the reply mean what it says. Your idea, this time, doesn’t fit this magazine’s needs.

So what now? Since you already have the editor’s attention, have a second idea ready to pitch back. Or, have another market or idea to pitch in its place. But first, run the mental checklist:

_Have you really read a few back issues of the magazine?
_In which department might the idea fit best?
_Is the idea geared toward the demographic?
_Can you, suggest graphics, sidebars, audios, etc., that might make
the idea more attractive?

If you do all of this, you will be approaching your work in the best way possible—with your Best self in charge, the one who is prepared and knows where to go, what to do, how to respond in a way that moves you forward.

Inner strength
What if you don’t hear back? Not a word. You don’t even know if the editor received your pitch! Do you complain? Well, yes, maybe to other writer friends, if that helps. Do you cry? You do if you’ve sent out 100 pitches in a year and haven’t sold a single story. That would make me cry. Seriously. If you haven’t yet followed up (after a week or two), just call. Pick up the phone, hide your jitters behind a script you’ve prepared, and dial the editor’s number. Ask for a moment to make your pitch. Dig deep for the confidence needed to sell. If it’s not there, fake it this time, because freelancing isn’t a business for wimps.

iller instinct
Don’t just pitch ideas you think will work, pitch ideas you know will work. Trust in your ability to find them. Pay attention to what you’re reading in the magazines you want to write for. And become aware of who’s buying what.

Awareness is key if you want to overcome this obstacle called rejection. Without it, you’re doomed. Fine tune your instincts with practice. The more you pitch, the better you’ll get at it. Yes, it’s hard to hear an editor say no to your ideas. But ideas are a dime a dozen. You’ll never be without ideas. The best way to turn those ideas into published stories is to know what you’re good at writing (your specialty) and to target your ideas accordingly.

Which brings me to the final letter…

Expressive voice
An editor rejects your idea? Ask for clarification. She won’t respond? Ask a writer you know who writes for that magazine what might work better. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need. Those of us who repeatedly pitch articles that don’t sell, yet don’t make the attempt to find out why, won’t get anywhere. If you want to move forward, be willing to ask for help.

Agree? Disagree? Post your comments here.

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Jackie Dishner, aka, The BIKE Lady, writes and rides from Phoenix, Ariz., specializing mainly in business, travel, and self-help. She's most recently sold stories to AAA Living, Arizona Highways, Chile Pepper,, Highroads, Out Traveler, The Writer, This Old House, US Airways and others. Her first book, Backroads & Byways of Arizona (Countryman Press) hits the shelves this fall. She's also a public speaker at meetings, conventions and other group settings.

You can find my post for the day over at The BIKE Lady blog.


  1. Agree -- esp. the part about "freelancing not being a business for wimps."


  2. Oh, it's not is it, Jenny? You've gotta be able to stand up to the rejection, because it's such a normal part of the day-to-day.


  3. I like to think it makes us all stronger. Stronger - at taking the rejection, but also stronger writers in order to avoid another rejection.

  4. Indeed! It's your Inner strength. You become aware of it the more you need it. It's what helps build your confidence. If you're not connected to that part of you, you will not make it in this business. I think it's that simple.