Dare to Fail

If you want to succeed, get yourself okay with being crappy at something.

I’ve been doing non-fiction posts of late because I’ve been working on a piece for Soft Copy Publishing‘s upcoming publication. A small press publisher that focuses on short story anthologies for the iPad and Kindle. They do good stuff, and are a Bay Area local. Give them a follow if Twitter is your thing.

If I don’t make the cut, I’ll post the piece here. If I’ll do, I’ll post it here anyway, just sometime after the exclusive first digital rights pass (middle of next year).

But that’s not what this is all about. It’s about the risk of putting yourself out there. To get to this point, I’ve had to get myself okay with sucking, and being told I suck. It’s unlikely anyone will phrase it that way. But getting rejected often feels like that, no matter what is actually said.

Way back when short story publishing magazines had no such thing as a digital format, I told myself I wanted to collect as many rejection letters as possible. I knew I’d get them. Every writer does, and the main difference between success and failure is sucking it up and doing it again.

I was told by one of my writing teachers that you should expect form rejections. Sometimes you’ll get one that’s personalized. Or with notes. This is an amazing thing. It means you caught someone’s attention enough to add that personal touch. They didn’t just toss your work into the trash without grabbing them in someway.

The first story I tried submitting got three personalized responses. But no matter what, all I saw was “You Suck.” Despite what I had prepped myself for. Make no mistake I was proud of this still (so much, that I’m relating it now).

All but the rarest of us have the ego not to see that. And by rare, I don’t mean the ones who “made it”. A vast majority of them still get blocked because they think their work is crap. They still get heartbroken by rejection or poor reviews. I mean the RAREST of all of us.

In other words, having an impervious ego isn’t the key to success.

What is key is moving on despite hearing “You suck.” I remember reading that Stephen King once related that every writer gets rejected. The only difference between success and failure is that success means you submit your work one more time than it gets rejected.

I’ve found this true for just about anything.

So it’s not about shrugging off the message that your brain hears from rejection, that you’re not good enough. It’s about being bullheaded about it. Being able to look at what you’re doing and say, “It’s okay if other people think it sucks.”

This helps even when you’re just starting out. You might be unable to draw or write or sell cars. Whatever it is you are hoping to accomplish. You’ve got to be okay with taking those first steps and seeing a big pile of crap as results.

With hard work, perseverance, and self improvement you will eventually succeed. It’s just that failure is a critical component in getting to success.