My 100th “No”

Being a writer, I am constantly submitting posts, short stories and even the occasional poem in the hopes of getting published. And being an insanely organized writer, I keep track of everything I submit in a spreadsheet. When I submit something, I’ll update the spreadsheet with a new entry including the date, the place I submitted it to, the approximate window of response time, and the reply (yes or no). I also have a formula set up in the “yes or no” column to tally up each answer. (Yes, I’m a nerd)

As of yesterday, I just received my 100th “no.” And while I realize this isn’t something I should necessarily announce, let alone celebrate, I can’t help but feel a little proud. You see, a while back I was listening to a motivational speaker, and they encouraged the audience to “fail hard.” They said that if you throw yourself into challenges, try your absolute hardest, and then end up failing, you’re doing something right. Naturally, this struck me as odd. How can I be doing something right if I’m failing? My competitive brain just didn’t understand this. You either win or lose and it’s always better to win.

But failing isn’t always losing, they explained. Failing is more often the act of crossing off a path that doesn’t lead to success. And with that in mind, it’s crucial to fail as hard as we can, so we don’t waste time wondering if there was something more we could have done, or if there was one more turn we could have made that could have wrapped us around to the right path. If we are failing hard, it means we are trying hard. It means we are leaving no doubts behind and thus leaving no reason to go down that path again. By failing hard we are slowly succeeding.

Amongst my 100 no’s, I’ve also received 14 yes’s. Fourteen. Meaning my ratio here is 14/114, making my rate of success 12%. Last time I checked, no one is proud of a 12%. But alas, I am! Because I know that 88% failure is what has given me that 12% success.

A couple weeks ago a mentor at church was telling me about an article she read that emphasized how important it is for us to receive the “discipline of failure.” When she mentioned the phrase, I audibly gasped. I understood it instantly, because it’s exactly what I’ve been doing for the last three years. My failures (my no’s), all 100 of them, have made me a better writer. They are the reason I work so hard to receive those yes’s. So even though this “milestone” might seem like something to be ashamed of, it actually makes me extremely proud. I’m proud of myself for failing so hard, and I promise to continue failing for the rest of my life. It’s the only way I’ll ever be able to succeed.

23 comments

  1. I don’t submit a ton anymore, but whenever I do and don’t hear back (which means no) or get an actual no (which also means no) I use it to motivate me. Sometimes I think “oh, this site will want to feature this FOR SURE” and actually get constructive feedback, like the time Washington Post (the “Solo-ish” section) told me what I wrote was relatable but also diving into “platitude territory.” In other words, what I wrote had been written before and wasn’t original enough. Ouch, but also…I agreed. Kudos to you on that 12% success rate!

  2. Wow!! I love how determined you are and the way you see the positive in everything. In the writing world I bet 12% success is pretty darn amazing!! Keep on being amazing, Kimi!!
    love you! xoxo

  3. I love this and I love the formula on the spreadsheet. Sounds like something I would do 🙂

  4. Great post and every one of your “failures” is actually a success – they have made you the writer that you are today 😃🐻

  5. Hello! “Failing is more often the act of crossing off a path that doesn’t lead to success”. I gave that an Oooooo when I read it! I’ve never heard that one before, but it sure feels good to have that in my arsenal when feeling dejected!! 😉 🙂

  6. this makes me think of life failure as well. we carry so much shame for our sometimes spectacular failures (i spoke on just this topic this past weekend), but when i was talking to my therapist about it she said, no, sallie, you didn’t fail. — and now i realize i can’t remember anything she said after that because everything in my upbringing tells me that this particular act was indeed a failure, but what it led to was precisely what you’ve said here! It closed that path forever. I will never wonder again about where that would have taken me and if that direction would have made me happy. I am more certain now than i ever thought i could be. Geez, sorry for such a long comment – i might just have to keep thinking on this. thank you for sharing!

    1. Thank you for this! Ps- I love your phrase “spectacular failures.” It goes hand in hand here and I love that it puts a positive spin on our (sometimes) much needed failures.

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