Make Yourself Numb To Failure

Sometimes It’s The Only Way To Succeed.

It’s been an interesting five months of solid writing on this platform. Back in March of this year I took the plunge. Started pushing content out to the tune of one article a day. And I must say these five months have shown me a lot of things about myself.

Most of them not so darned hot.

Old traits I’d thought I’d beaten returned, but they came wrapped up in different packaging making it hard to realize what I was going through until it was too late.

The worst problem I experienced was long bouts of depression brought about by intense moments of frustration and anger.

I started as all new to this family of writers started. Firmly convinced I was bringing my best to the table.

I had a cocky, wait till they get a load of this, conviction my work would be universally welcomed by the masses. I was convinced I knew what I was doing. More important, I told myself I knew I was writing what readers were looking for, messages of humor, motivation and inspiration.

I began posting with the expectation everything I wrote would go viral.

And….they didn’t.

After fifty or sixty posts and after witnessing lackluster results I knew I was up against a real challenge.

But I’m always up for a challenge (at least I thought I was) so I redoubled my efforts. I took a hard look at the playing field. Studied the works of those who were killing it. Then I started anew. Surely this new approach would kick start a ton of views, reads and fans right?

And….it didn’t.

Then I got pissed. When I got pissed I became depressed. The more depressed I got, the more pissed off I became. My writing suffered terribly because of it. I started getting less views, less reads, less fans.

It became an endless, vicious cycle.

Wow, just, wow.

Three months of beating myself up took its toll on me for sure. It was an extremely low point in my writing career.

I mean, come on folks, who knew you had to write well enough for people to actually read your work even if you’re blogging? Who knew you actually had to work your butt off to present an entertaining, thought provoking piece people actually wanted to read?

Evidently, everyone but me.

It’s easy to sign up for something with thoughts of becoming an overnight success when you’ve chosen to blindfold yourself and ignore what you need to do to get there.

The hard part is learning to deal with the consequences of unrealistic and misguided intentions.

For the record, I didn’t deal with those consequences very well. I endured three months of the most dark, painful sets of emotions I believe I’ve ever experienced. The worst part of it was I should have seen it coming. But my self-inflated ego would have none of it.

I kept telling myself something’s wrong, but it couldn’t possibly be me. So what in the heck was causing this failure?

In the end, when I forced myself to take the blinders off, I realized it was me.

I was causing my own problems.

For years I’d conned myself into thinking I was a great writer who’d learned everything I needed to know to be successful.

In my mind, the failures I was experiencing just, did, not, compute.

Each time something didn’t work I let thoughts of being a failure overtake me, incense me until I went down the rabbit hole again.

Hello depression my old frenemy.

Even when I started writing Henry James stories, something I absolutely love to do, I let myself fall into the frustration trap time and time again.

Something had to give, and I didn’t want it to be me or my writing career. I wanted to write. I needed to keep writing, but failure continued to dash my hopes, frustrate me, really, piss, me, off.

So, I started making myself numb to the failure.

The last piece I wrote didn’t do diddly squat.

Big deal. I’m going to write another one.

My read count for the piece yesterday was barely over fifty.

So what? I’ll write another piece and make it better this time.

Your last Henry James story only got a total of four fans.

Yeah and? Haven’t got time to think about it. I’m writing another one.

Nothing you’ve ever written has gone viral.

Let me think about that for a moment. Uh, nope don’t care. I’m working on another piece. Maybe it will.

Don’t get me wrong folks, frustration and depression still visit me from time to time. But what makes me succumb to either is the perception I’m failing at writing. The perception something I tried to do didn’t work, bombed horribly, failed miserably and because it did I will never make it as a writer.

I’ve stopped fooling myself and come to grips with the understanding my perception of being a failure as a writer is the real trigger.

And so, I will continue making myself numb to failure.

I’ll keep moving forward, one piece at a time each and every day. I’ll keep writing Henry James stories and other things which spin around in my head.

If they flop then I won’t write the next piece the exact same way. I’ll do my best to make it better.

But I will write something.

Oh yes, I will fail, but I’m just going to go numb when the anger starts to build. I’m going to make myself numb to the perception I’m failing as a writer. I won’t let that thought take up residence in my old pea brain and start swabbing the deck with frustration and depression again.

It took me several years and the last five months to finally understand failure is not failure as a writer. It’s simply another step in the direction of being where I want to be.

If I let it beat me, if I let the thoughts consume me, hurt me like they have in the past I will never achieve any goals I set.

And so, I have made myself numb to failure.

Here’s a suggestion.

Learn to make yourself numb to failure. Don’t try to stick your head in the sand and ignore it when it happens and don’t expect the feelings to just go away on their own because they won’t.

The nasty feelings and emotions running through your head when you fail are persistent little suckers.

Train yourself to take the hit and keep on writing. Learn to take the hit and not let it destroy you because we all at some point are going to take the hit. Some of us (like me) more times than others.

Just remember to make yourself numb to the thought you’re a failure as a writer.

You’re only a failure if you quit.

Let’s keep in touch: paul@pgbarnett.com

Written by

A published author enjoying married Texas bliss. Dog person living with cats. A writer of Henry James' stories. Featured In MuckRack. Top Writer In Fiction.

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