Learn to Fail


FAIL like a champion!


I think oneof the toughest lessons any aspiring writer needs to learn is how to FAIL.

Rejection is not easy. Spending days, sometimes weeks or months, crafting a story and then to have someone tell you it’s not good enough can be a tough pill to swallow. Magazines and conferences always feed writers a bunch of hippie bullshit on how to recover from a rejection letter for a short story, poem, or novel, but I’ve got the best advice…

Quit being such a whiny bitch and get over it.

Obviously easier said than done, but I created a system for myself two years ago that has made me the hard-hearted rejection-proof writing juggernaut that I am today, and I encourage all writers who fear the generic form letter rejection to do the same.

For a long time I, too, feared sending out my work for fear of rejection. I would craft a story and then sit on it without sending it anywhere for fear of someone telling me it wasn’t good enough. I knew that if I was going to get anywhere with the written word, rejection was something I was going to have to learn to coexist with. So near the end of 2010, remembering my father’s advice that “Sometimes you have to throw enough shit against the wall just to see what will stick,” I made it my goal to receive at least 50 rejections by the end of 2011. I didn’t concern myself with acceptances. If I sent out 50 subs and received 50 rejections then my experiment would be a success. This wasn’t about writing credits; no, this was about building skin so thick a rhino would be jealous.

And that’s what I did. Short stories, screenplays, poetry, novel queries – I sent whatever I had out into the world knowing that I was going to take a proverbial ass whipping courtesy of the literary world. And ass whipped I was. I sent my work everywhere: e-zines, print mags, fledgling mags, big time mags like Glimmertrain and Tin House, well-known agents, no-name agents, and everything in between. And the rejections started rolling in. The funny thing was that my experiment turned every rejection into a tiny victory. Sure, I wasn’t going to be published but I was one rejection closer to reaching my 50-FAIL goal.

By the end of the year, I had accumulated 57 rejections and was tough as a $2 steak. The best part was that while I was accumulating those 57 rejections, I had also scored six acceptances. I learned that for every ten subs I send out into the world, I usually score at least one “yes” and that has helped me become a more productive and successful writer.

I won’t lie and say rejection still doesn’t get to me. Before I started writing this post I received a rejection from a magazine I thought I had a pretty good chance of getting published in. I read it, said, “Well that sucks” and started writing for the night. I’m not sure I could have recovered so easily before my FAIL experiment, but tonight’s rejection is just another victory on my way to reaching this year’s goal.

So there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. Just remember that you, too, can learn to fail…THE DOUG TROXELL WAY!


~ by themoderntranscendentalist on May 27, 2012.

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