Why I Made 100 Rejections My Goal

Happy 2021! Somehow we managed to survive the dumpster fire that was 2020, and I think we’re all looking ahead to a better 2021. One thing I love to do every year is to set goals for myself. I set goals in every area of my life, and of course, that includes writing. One of my big goals for this year? Get 100 rejections.

It’s not my only goal. I have a couple of books I’d like to get drafted, including one nonfiction middle grade book. I have a goal number for submissions. I have an income goal. But the biggest (and possible weirdest) is to get 100 rejections either from agents or publishers.

I’m calling it Project 100, and it’s for the novel I’m in the last stages of revising. Once that’s done (hopefully by the end of the month) I will begin submitting to agents and publishers. Averaging 10/month will get me to my goal just before 2022. I will be tracking these rejections–I even swiped a hundred chart from my first grader–and posting it where I can see it.

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This idea might sound stupid and counterproductive, but let me explain.

It changes my mindset about rejection.

Rejections stinks. Let’s just call a spade a spade, shall we? It’s awful, gut wrenching, and sometimes incredibly cruel. (Sometimes they’re kind and helpful, but that’s rare.) Every time we get that email or letter back, it twists the knife in our gut, and we feel like talentless hacks.

But what if we turned the idea on it’s head? Instead of sending your work out into the void hoping it finds a home, we focus on accumulating rejection slips as if they were stepping stones to our final goal? Each rejection is just one step closer, and the sooner you hit 100, the sooner you reach publication? (I’m not saying that it will happen, but it will at least get you closer.) Suddenly, rejection takes a new focus. It’s not a door slammed in your face, but another stone to hop across. That’s a much more enjoyable thought.

It solidifies my resolve.

What if you were guaranteed that you would have a book published (or whatever your goal is) after ten years of working every day? But you had to show up, every day, day after day, writing and writing. Thousands of words over the course of ten years.

Would you do it?

That thought used to be very off-putting to me. I wanted success NOW. But I like to think I’ve learned a bit. Success is never an overnight thing. It might appear that way, but it takes years of work, practice, effort, and failure to become and “overnight success”. Making 100 rejections a goal is solidifying my resolve that yes, I do want this. I do love writing, even if nobody ever reads it.

It is proof of effort.

You know what’s worse than failing?

Not trying.

Rejection is awful, but I’d rather have enough rejection letters to wallpaper my bedroom than none at all. Because it means you’re still trying. You’re doing the work, putting it out there, and making the effort. Giving up is not an option.

I love my rejection slips. They show me I try.

Sylvia Plath

It is a rite of passage.

A true enneagram 5, I listen to podcasts like a crazy woman. I heard an interview with a writer who had taken surveys from hundreds of writers. One of the questions she asked was the number of rejections they received. What she discovered?

Most writers were rejected if not hundreds of times, many, many times. It’s inevitable. It’s basically a rite of passage for any writer who wants to get published. You can find all sorts of examples from Steven King to J. K. Rowling of the piles of rejections they received in their career. (But seriously, who could reject Harry Potter!?)

If at the end of the year, I have nothing to show for my efforts but of pile of rejection slips, I’ll consider it a learning experience. And then, I might just go and publish my book on my own.

What about you? Are you making a crazy goal for 2021? Tell me about it! Leave a comment below. If you enjoyed this post, please like and share!

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