The following post is an excerpt from my new book, Get the Hell Past It: How to Recover from Failure with Grace, Dignity and Possibly Some Cash. If you enjoy this section, I strongly recommend you pick up the book and learn more on the secret to writing well, as well as how to face creative failure like a boss!
Failure is real, and you cannot escape it. The following is one of the most powerful stories I’ve ever heard on the subject, so I wanted to share it with you.
Why Being Bulletproof Isn’t the Secret to Writing Well
I had lunch with a new client today. I’m already reflecting back on that amazing salad and Americano by the breezy Belizean beach, while he told me all about the blood, sweat and tears he’d poured into his industry over the last several decades. One story in particular stood out to me.
After a particular business venture didn’t work out for him, this client was looking for new work. He met with several people and then had a surprise meeting with someone he’d known from his past, who was looking for a new addition to his team. They sat down together, and my client admitted the hardships he’d endured during the recent unsuccessful phase in his life. His prospective employer told him:
“Yeah, I saw that coming.”
“You did?” my client asked.
“Yep, sure did,” the other man said. “You thought you were bulletproof; you were due for a fall.”
My client was puzzled. “And you still want to hire me?”
“I do,” said his interviewer. “I never would have before your failure, but now I can trust you to take this work seriously. You’re who you are today, the person I want today, because this happened to you.”
He got the job.
How Failure and Writing Go Hand in Hand
The reason I love this story so much is because it proves something we all instinctively know is true but can’t quite convince ourselves of when we’re in the throes of a disappointment:
Failure has value.
But because it hurts, that value is often hard to find. That’s why I decided to write a book that intentionally talked all about how beneficial failure is to the creative process. It makes your writing richer but your expectations lower, your work ethic stronger and your skin thicker, your fragility less fragile and your ego less outsized. It’s the secret to writing well.
If you fail frequently and still write, you learn to:
- Let go of what others think about your thoughts and ideas
- Truck forward even when you’re not seeing any results
- Take heart from one or two or five people getting something out of what you said, rather than expecting the world to sit up and take notice
- Explore your own emotions and values, which is both healing and enjoyable
- Improve your craft without applause
Seriously, you guys. Failure has made me the writer I am today, and I could never wish it away in a million years.
So next time you feel the urge to hide that failure, remember these benefits and that failure is the secret to writing well. Remember that my client landed his dream job by flaunting that failure. (Or at least, by failing to hide it. Ha.)
Failure Makes You MORE Appealing to Others
When it comes to failure, the only option is to embrace it, to see its benefits and to share your stories with others. Sharing your tales, and hearing theirs, is the only way to draw power from what otherwise sucks major rocks.
In other words, to kick ass.
And take names.
You get where I’m going with this.
Okay, get out there and WIN AT CREATIVE LIFE! And be sure to email me if you have any questions, would like to see more specific information in the form of posts on the blog, or need anything else! I hope to hear from you soon.
The following post is an excerpt from my new book, Get the Hell Past It: How to Recover from Failure with Grace, Dignity and Possibly Some Cash. If you enjoy this section, I strongly recommend you pick up the book and learn to use failure as motivation like a boss!
Failure is a kind of motivation if you can strike while the iron is hot.
It’s like taking a test. Would you take the class, then take the test a year later? No, you take the test right away.
Well, your failed attempt was the class. The test is this: Can you learn to correct what went wrong? If you “take that test” by restarting right away, you have a much better chance than if you wait. Give it 3 months, 6 months or a year, and you’re much likelier to make the same mistakes over again.
The following post is an excerpt from my new book, Get the Hell Past It: How to Recover from Failure with Grace, Dignity and Possibly Some Cash. If you enjoy this section, I strongly recommend you pick up the book and learn to face feeling creative failure like a boss!
If you live in the same dreamland as I, your fantasies are filled with the ability to face adversity with a gentle and sanguine Acceptance of What Is. No matter what happens – failure, rejection, fear, pain, DMV lines – you simply smile and shrug, waiting for the inevitable to wrap you in its not-so-sweet embrace and carry you off to wherever the hell it has in mind for you.
While you, meantime, fold your hands into prayer position and bow your head with a soft smile.
Namaste, Good Friend Adversity, you will say. We are all one in the great wheel of suckery we call life, and I love you as my sister.
Doesn’t that sound nice? Wouldn’t that be a cozy, Mother Teresa-ish way to live?
Hard work is turtles all the way down.
Now, if you’re not familiar with this expression, it refers to the ancient idea that the world is supported on the back of a turtle, which is in turn supported by a larger turtle, under which is a larger turtle, which is standing on a larger (and presumably Schwarzenegger-strong at this point) turtle, and so on. Turtles all the way down, man.
Again, work is a lot like that.
That annoying-but-entrepreneurially-necessary chore you did today depending on a skill set or knowledge bank you built yesterday, or last week or two years ago or in high school. That particular skill set was founded on other skill sets, which rest on still others.
So you want to write, but you’re not sure how to start the habit. No matter what you, it seems you can never develop a writing practice that actually sticks.
Duty calls. Work exhausts you. Kids and meals and Netflix all make Sitting Down and Doing the Thing sound so hard.
I get it. I’ve been there. And before I actually decided to start a writing practice, I was always flailing, hoping to find time but never doing it … because I wasn’t making it.
Oh, and before you conclude it was easy for me because I write full-time, know that even after I accomplished that, it was extremely difficult for me to make time for aspirational writing. So again, I do know what you’re going through.
That said, here’s how I made time for my fiction and nonfiction books, and how I make sure to write something for myself every single day.
Writing is a frustrating profession, especially when you want to write for yourself.
Like, very frustrating.
You want desperately to spend more time at your keyboard or in your notebook. You want to pen words that really mean something to you. You want to write for yourself.
Yet you don’t. You work for someone else. Perhaps as a freelance writer, perhaps as a journalist at a small paper, perhaps as someone in another field altogether. And you can’t figure out how to make the jump.
Luckily, there is hope. Below are four of the best ways to make writing for others profitable for your own writing.
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