The world of writing is quite a strange world to inhabit. It's unlike any other job in many ways. Who in their right mind would send out pitches to editors in the knowledge that it's probably going to be a no? Is this the action of a person who is fully in control of their faculties?
But pitch we must! I've been indulging in a fair bit of pitching myself over the past few weeks with some success - you win some, you lose some. Probably one of the most frustrating replies for a writer from an editor is they'll keep it on file in case they can use it at a later date. Sometimes this pays off and they do, indeed, contact you later and commission the article. But mostly it never sees the light of day.
What is a writer to do in this limbo situation? Do you wait in the hope that it's picked eventually? No! If they don't want your article there and then I would send the pitch, once you've tweaked it to suit new markets, to another editor who might want it there and then. It makes no business sense whatsoever to wait in this instance.
And that is what you are as a freelance writer - you are a business. If one customer doesn't want what you have to offer then you move on and find a customer who does. I would, however, pay the previous editor the courtesy of telling them if you do place the article elsewhere so they can remove it from their file.
Writers have to be pretty patient creatures but in business if you wait too long you lose out and someone else might get their article in instead of you. There are plenty of magazines out there who will want your work - so while you're waiting for other verdicts from editors to come in, don't forget to be sending more pitches out there. If they editor puts your idea on file - send it somewhere else! Hesitation can cost a writer dearly so if it's a no or on file, get it out again to another market.