100 Rejections

Photo Credit: Vikki Reich

Photo Credit: Vikki Reich

At some point last year, I read an article encouraging writers to accumulate rejections—100 to be exact. I have a deeply embedded fear of failure. and can talk myself out of just about anything when it comes to writing.

I regularly tell myself that my writing is too simple, too choppy, too boring, too introspective—too everything, in the critical sense of the word. Yet I continue to write anyway, though very little of it ever leaves my hard drive except for what I put here. 

So, I was intrigued by the idea of reframing rejection. Collecting rejections would force me to face my fear and collecting 100 would mean that I couldn't dwell on them because I would have to move onto the next submission. 

The article's author goes on to talk about an experiment included in the book Art & Fear

In the book Art & Fear, authors David Bales and Ted Orland describe a ceramics class in which half of the students were asked to focus only on producing a high quantity of work while the other half was tasked with producing work of high quality. For a grade at the end of the term, the “quantity” group’s pottery would be weighed, and fifty pounds of pots would automatically get an A, whereas the “quality” group only needed to turn in one—albeit perfect—piece. Surprisingly, the works of highest quality came from the group being graded on quantity, because they had continually practiced, churned out tons of work, and learned from their mistakes. The other half of the class spent most of the semester paralyzed by theorizing about perfection, which sounded disconcertingly familiar to me—like all my cases of writer’s block.

This makes so much sense to me. I know that perfectionism plays a big role in just about everything I do (or don't do), so, focusing on quantity might help me escape from my overthinking mind. 

Miguel is starting to look at colleges, including some that will be very hard for him to get into, but I keep telling him, "Let them tell you no. Don't tell yourself that." This is solid advice and I've not generally followed it in my own life. But I am going to try to change that in my writing life.

My goal this year is to work hard to collect 100 rejections. I have already submitted 5 essays to various places which is, I believe, 4 more than I submitted in all of last year. It might not seem like much but it's a start.