Do you feel like a failure as a writer, blogger, or freelancer? You are not alone. Use these tips for failing and bouncing back to help you overcome the rejection and criticism all successful writers experience.
I’m driven to write this because I received criticism on 6 Personality Traits of Successful Writers. Criticisms aren’t necessarily failures, but they sure sting! And sometimes they take a long time to heal.
Here’s what the American President says about failure and bouncing back: “Making your mark on the world is hard,” says Barack Obama. “If it were easy, everybody would do it. But it’s not. It takes patience, it takes commitment, and it comes with plenty of failure along the way. The real test is not whether you avoid this failure, because you won’t. it’s whether you let it harden or shame you into inaction, or whether you learn from it; whether you choose to persevere.”
If you’re struggling with feelings of failure as a writer or blogger and need inspiration, read books like Great Failures of the Extremely Successful. You’ll learn that Babe Ruth spent his childhood years in an orphanage and, as a baseball player, struck out 1,330 times…on his way to the Hall of Fame. Elvis Presley was banished from the Grand Ole Opry after one performance and told: “You ain’t goin’ nowhere, son.”
Oprah Winfrey was fired from her television reporter’s job and advised: “You’re not fit for TV.” Author/interviewer Steve Young relates how hardships, roadblocks, rejections and even physicial infirmities cannot stop people determined to succeed! This collection of motivational stories and anecdotes of famous and everyday “failures” shows that success rests on changing “I can’t” into “I will.”
How to Fail and Bounce Back as a Writer
Remember the dog-and-vomit analogy. I recently read There Is a Season by Patrick Lane, about his journey through addiction and recovery. He said thinking about terrible things in the past is like a dog returning to his own vomit (or something to that effect). I love this analogy, and use it when I trudge down the path of self-criticism. Instead of beating myself up, I tell myself that I’m not a dog and I refuse to go back to my own vomit…and I then think “Eeewwww…” and I move on! This is a practical, effective way to stop feeling like a writing failure.
Calculate your success-to-failure ratio. Of the hundreds (perhaps thousands) of comments I’ve received on my Quips and Tips blogs, only two were critical and mean-spirited. I actually wish I received more helpful criticism and feedback – because a writer doesn’t learn much from compliments! When you feel like a failure as a writer or blogger, figure out your own success-to-failure ratio. You may be failing a lot less than you think…and if you find you’re failing too much, then you have something to work with, something you can improve on. This knowledge valuable to your career as a writer.
Go where you are loved. The beauty of the internet is that you can visit bloggers and writers at all hours of the day or night. To rebuild confidence as a writer or blogger, spend time on sites that make you feel good about yourself. If you’ve helped people on forums or blogs, go there. If you’ve connected with a certain blogger or writer, surf his or her website. Reconnect — not just online, but in person with your friends and family.
Revisit your successes. A surefire way to bounce back after criticism is to bask in the glory of the compliments you’ve received, the successes you’ve celebrated, and the progress you’ve made! Remembering what you did right and well can motivate you to keep forging ahead.
“My will shall shape the future,” says consultant and coach Elaine Maxwell. “Whether I fail or succeed shall be no man’s doing but my own. I am the force; I can clear any obstacle before me or I can be lost in the maze. My choice; my responsibility; win or lose, only I hold the key to my destiny.”
Have you received criticism as a blogger or felt like a failure as a writer? I welcome your stories and tips for bouncing back! You might also want to read How to Stop Feeling Like a Failed Writer.