Is rejection getting you down? In the writing life, it can often feel like pitches, submissions, and fellowship applications only ever end in rejection. This is an intensive class for writers of all genres trying to get their work out in the world. It combines generative pitch writing with practical tips for submitting, to help you free yourself from the sting of rejection by… embracing it!
We will explore how our opinions about rejection can infiltrate the writing, revising, submitting, and application processes. We will also look at ways to dial down the internal editor during the writing process, opening up access to the most creative parts of ourselves.
This seminar is divided into two parts: The first week will focus on identifying our fears, naming our dreams, and generative writing in which we can all collectively put aside fears of rejection and be as bold and courageous as we want in drafting the pieces and pitches we have always wanted to write. There will also be a brainstorming session about finding homes for the piece(s) and submitting.
The second week will be all about developing a submission management system in order to collect rejections and create tiers of submissions, reframing the submission process to empower writers, and creating a practical “action plan” for a pitch or piece in progress.
Participants will leave with a personal submission management system, a draft of a pitch and/or piece that they can finish and submit to editors, and an action plan for embracing rejections and continuing to produce adventurous writing!
This class will meet over our text-only chat platform. There will not be any video or audio component to class.
- Gain a practical framework for organizing and managing submissions – i.e., “the collecting 100 rejections spreadsheet”
- Produce one or more completed pitches, and develop a “submission action plan” for a specific project
- Generate new writing, start one or more pieces that can be continued and submitted
- Learn strategies to free the creative voice from within, and put the editor on the back burner during the generative writing process
- Gain experience about the publishing industry, freelance writing, and publishing prose in magazines, literary journals, and a variety of online venues
- Build a community of supportive allies who embrace rejection and support each other!
Week 1: Daring to Dream, and Facing our Fears of Rejection
- Identify the blocks – discussion of why rejection stings and what we can do about it
- Define your goals, no matter how ludicrous or seemingly out of reach – what is a piece that you would love to send to a top publication but have always been afraid? What is a story you have been dying to tell but have stopped yourself from starting for fear of rejection?
- Write without the editor hovering: prompts to unblock your writer’s block, free your voice from fear, and start the pitch and/or piece(s) that you are dying to write
- Brainstorm for the submissions process: which magazines, which editors, what types of work do they publish, where else might publish this type of work?
Week 2: Tackling the Submission Process and Creating Action Plans that Breed Success
- Participants will bring in a drafted pitch and/or a draft of the piece, as well as a constellation of 5-10 other places that might be appropriate for pitching
- Develop “the Spreadsheet”: a practicum to develop a submission management system that works for the individual writer. One strategy: collecting 100 rejections per year!
- Tiered submissions and research: which editors to pitch what pieces to, which publications require completed submissions, and how to find new venues for your work
- Action Plan: develop a feasible and manageable plan for the life of your piece and pitch outside of this workshop.
Kim Liao’s essays, articles, book reviews, and stories have appeared in Catapult, Lit Hub, The Rumpus, Salon, River Teeth, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Another Chicago Magazine, Fringe, Brevity's Nonfiction Blog, Fourth River, and others. Her essay published by Lit Hub in 2016 about collecting 100 rejections a year was viewed more than 200,000 times and ranked as the #4 most-read piece on Lit Hub that year. Since Kim’s rejection essay was published, she has received numerous invitations to guest lecture or guest blog as a “Rejection Expert,” a title she wears with pride and a healthy dose of irony.
"Kim Liao is an indispensable source of knowledge about both craft and industry practice. In addition to her knack for poignant feedback, she is also incredibly warm and thoughtful. Her ability to remain sensitive to the writer’s goals makes her one of the best writing teachers I’ve ever had. Most importantly, Kim has an impressive knack for reframing writing obstacles in a way that makes the process much more doable than it seems when you’re buried in the drafts. She’s a guiding light for all those moments when writing by yourself keeps you in the weeds."
“Kim Liao makes the case for racking up literary rejections in ‘Why You Should Aim for 100 Rejections This Year,’ an essay that is near and dear to my own rejected little heart… This couldn’t resonate with me more…. That’s also why I appreciated Liao’s essay—it highlights the fact that rejection is the norm rather than something to be ashamed of.”
“Earlier this year I came across an article by Kim Liao in which she explained ‘Why You Should Aim For 100 Rejections A Year.’ As soon as I finished reading the piece I went to the folder in my email marked ‘Writing Submissions 2017’ and for the first time in my life, I began to count my rejections rather than counting my acceptances… Because I was inspired by Liao’s article to continue submitting, I began to set aside time each week to submit.”
“To a writer—or an aspiring writer—rejection is the norm. Some amount of rejection is preferable, even: if I ever make it to a point where most of the essays and short stories I send out are accepted right away, I’ll know that either I’ve made it or, more likely, I’m aiming too low. In 2016, Kim Liao shared her goal of amassing 100 rejections a year… and it articulated something I had vaguely grasped at: take the rejection to heart only insofar as it improves your writing, adjust your aim, and keep going.”
“Remember Kim Liao’s June 2016 article for Literary Hub? I’m talking about the one that cited a writer friend who had advised her: 'Collect rejections. Set rejection goals. I know someone who shoots for one hundred rejections in a year, because if you work that hard to get so many rejections, you’re sure to get a few acceptances, too.' Liao’s piece went viral for good reason.”
“Applying and reapplying to opportunities may be, in part, a numbers game. The more opportunities applied for, the higher the chance an opportunity will come through. In fact, founders may want to take their queues from author Kim Liao, who shoots for a quota of 100 rejections a year — odds are she'll get a few acceptances along the way.”