In a recent appearance on Marc Maron’s “WTF” podcast, Howie Mandel stated that a big part of his success in show business has to do with “being comfortable with discomfort.” It’s so obvious, sure, but that verbalization of a simple truth really struck a chord with me.
In fact, I’ll take Mandel’s statement a step further (well, maybe it’s just a slight repositioning, but hey, I want to feel like I’m contributing too) and put this out there:
You need to be comfortable with failure if you want to become a better writer. It’s not a matter of if you’ll deal with falling short, it’s a matter of when.
Even though I’m lucky enough to make my living as a scribe, I still deal with failure every single day. Whether it’s a big corporate project or a personal blog post I write for my own amusement (or catharsis), I’m usually in a state of discomfort.
It’s literally my default position.
Despite that, I wouldn’t have it any other way, as far as my process goes. At the end of the day, failure doesn’t slow me down or diminish my writing ability; instead, all it’s done is made me stronger.
Failure is (Unavoidably) Part of the Process
Let’s not kid ourselves: Failing repeatedly isn’t easy.
It’s tough. Tough to accept. Tough to grapple with even when you know it’s true. Maybe toughest of all is knowing that the next failure is coming around the next corner, probably sooner than you think.
At least that’s the way I used to look at it.
Now, having been around the block a few more times creatively, I know that there’s no avoiding those failures. That said, I don’t attach negative connotations of them anymore. Instead, I look at temporary setbacks (and trust me, they never last forever) as a helping hand, like someone stopping to give you directions by the side of the road.
Let’s use the example of having your writing submission rejected. It doesn’t matter what it is or even how good you are at the time of submission — people will say no to you. The vast majority of the time, there’s no malicious intent behind or anything. It’s just a no.