Why I Have a Rejection Goal and You Need One Too

Saved away in one of the files on my computer is a numbered list of names. There are names of writing competitions and opportunities, publishers and literary agents.

Each of the names has notes next to him. Dates of when something was sent or submitted. Some of the text is marked with strikethrough and details of a response received. Some of the text is marked as pending. The remaining items have no further updates next to them – the lack of detail is actually a telling feature of this list.

The list is a record of rejections. It records my progress towards my rejection goal.

Yes, you read that correctly. I have a rejection goal.

What is a rejection goal?

A rejection goal is the concept of setting a target number of rejections to achieve within a certain period eg. get 50 rejections by the end of this year.

The idea of setting out to be rejected may seem counterintuitive if your overarching goal is to be accepted in your chosen field. In the case of aspiring authors, it may be to get an agent or a publisher or win a writing competition. A goal to ultimately succeed which isn’t typically associated with being rejected.

So why bother having a rejection goal?

The motivation for having a rejection goal is not the desire to be rejected, but the actions you will have to take to get you to a point of possible rejection.

It comes down to one single truth. To be rejected, you have to put yourself out there. You have to take action with your creative work. You have to look for opportunities and go after them. Rejection is evidence that you are pursuing your overarching goal.

The benefits of rejection

For me, the biggest benefit of rejection is the feedback it provides.

The only way to improve your craft is through practise, feedback and refining your work. Having a rejection goal gives you all of these things.

Sometimes you get lucky and someone will give you specific feedback as to why your work wasn’t right for them. Some competitions you enter will offer detailed feedback you can use to improve your work. And of course, no feedback is feedback as well.

For instance, if I have sent a pitch package to a potential agent and I get a form response or no response, I take a moment to reflect whether there’s something in my pitch that could be refined.

Sure sometimes I find myself double-guessing myself, especially when you don’t know the real reason for your rejection, but every rejection is an opportunity to do a health check and improve what you’re putting out there.

Is my synopsis up to scratch? Does my first chapter grab the reader’s attention? Have I provided good comparison titles?

Every time I’m rejected I look for a chance to hone my work and craft. And guess what?

When you put yourself out there enough and use rejection as a learning experience you’re increasing your chances of succeeding.

You never know when you may just get the exact outcome you’re looking for. Maybe instead of being rejected you succeed!

So what are you waiting for? Set yourself a rejection goal, take action and don’t forget to congratulate yourself along the way, because every rejection takes you one step closer to your overall goal.

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