Poetry Submissions: An Update on the #100Rejections Challenge

Poetry submissions recordBack in 2019 I was intrigued by the concept of the #100Rejections challenge. The idea is that if you are aiming for rejections, you will feel a sense of achievement, rather than disappointment, each time a piece is rejected, and maintain a more positive outlook as you press on towards your yearly goal. Having found that the average response time for UK based poetry magazine is between 3 and 6 months, I decided to adapt the challenge to make it a little more realistic, so my aim was to send off 100 batches of poems by the end of the year.   

In my first year of attempting this goal, I found that there were some real benefits. It really did push me to send out far more work, and each time a set of poems was rejected, I forced myself to edit them and then send them out again as soon as possible, so that each disappointment was turned immediately into hope.

However, on some occasions I found that in order to meet my goal I was sending out poems too early, before they had had time to mature, to become the very best poems they could possibly be. I’m referring to editing here, and I must admit that it is easy to become complacent when you’re aiming for as many submissions as possible. Editing is a vital part of the process, and time is a key component.

Even so, I am chuffed with the result. In 2019 I sent out more submissions than ever before. I didn’t quite meet my goal, but I did submit 70 batches of poems and had more work published in that year than in any previous year. In particular, I’m proud of gaining my first ever shortlisting for a big competition – the Bridport Prize.

In 2020 I pushed the submission numbers a little further, reaching a total of 84 submissions, and had more work published again.Poems published in magazines

This year, 2021, I joined a poetry group – a peer support group aimed at those who want to push themselves to submit more poems, and also a useful source of information, as we share links to magazines and competitions. At the end of every month we each report our progress, and this supportive environment has really helped boost my submissions rate, so much so that I have already reached my goal of 100 submissions, and the year is not yet complete!

I’ve just updated my ‘My Poems’ page on my blog, with links to some of the published poems…

I keep a list of submissions in a notebook, along with a colour-coded spreadsheet.

I keep a list of submissions in a notebook, along with a colour-coded spreadsheet.

A New Goal

Now that I’ve reached one of my goals – 100 submissions in a year – and have managed to get poems published in several big name magazines that I have been pestering for years, such as Poetry Wales, Under the Radar and Anthropocene, I’m going to change gear slightly.

My plan for 2022 is to focus most of my energy on another ongoing goal: getting a first collection published. I’m also going to concentrate on writing more new poems, editing poems, and submitting poems to competitions, and I’ll be persevering with my regular bombardment of a few particular magazines that have not yet accepted any of my work.

Submission opportunities…

Angela T. Carr’s blog, updated monthly, is an invaluable resource.

The Poetry Directory is another go-to place for poetry submitters.

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