1. Early on I sent out a lot of bullshit. I mean I would send out almost anything that seemed done, whether I loved it or not. Later on I began to realize that not only did I rarely receive acceptances for things that I hadn’t put the work on in, I also realized that boy does it suck when you accidentally get something published that you don’t even like.
2. There is a mental diminishing return to publishing. The more you do it the more the feeling is diluted. Thus, there is no rush. It seems really urgent and then it seems less urgent. Being diligent to the point of nearly psycho produces results in that the practice of writing makes you get better and better, but you should never feel shitty for a rejection. It is just another chance to improve. Take that chance.
3. My major practice was once I felt a piece was done I’d send it to like 10 places. After I got over sending out just anything I would write a piece and revise it over and over from beginning to end until I could get through without wanting to change anything. Then I’d send a block of them out. When I got one back, even if it was just a form rejection I would then reread the piece to see “what was wrong with it.” Often this resulted in finding more I wanted to change, on my own terms, partly from getting older, partly from new doubt maybe. Then I’d send some more out, refilling the gap. In this way, by the time a piece would get taken (if it did), the new version would be imminently better than it had ever been. Thus rejection spawned improvement. But some writing is from a very specific mental time period and changing can make it worse. Be honest with yourself, and with your art. Maybe consider: would I be moved or interested in reading this if I wasn’t the one who wrote it? Maybe it is just for you.
4. Often editors who reject you are doing you a favor. Either the piece isn’t great and needs work (thus saving you face of looking back later like whyyyyy did I publish this) or taking a strong piece and making it stronger because of force of will. Yeah sure some editors just are pussies but so what. The work is never necessarily done.
5. Some pieces are you learning. Some never get it right. Don’t publish your homework. “Burnsong” was the first story I ever finished and was like Yes I did something really strong here. Now I know it sucks, and trying for so long to get it published and being rejected over and over was way more of an accomplishment for myself than having it in a damn magazine.