Failure: There’s None; There’s Only Feedback

11 May

Failure - there is none

If you are aware of NLP (Neuro-linguistic Programming), you have heard these words before. There is no failure, only feedback. This is something I thoroughly believe in from my personal experiences and from listening to those of others.

Failure & Writing: Personal Experience

Most of you who are a regular here know how I switched careers from being a software engineer to a full-time writer. The most wonderful thing about this whole transition is that I never thought of it until a month before I dived into writing full-time. Some would feel this was a sudden, unforeseen move–may be even unplanned.

However, I like to call it well-planted in my subconscious long beforehand–a passion. It was just a matter of the right time when my conscious mind would accept and cooperate.

Yet, all is not always merry. Since I have embarked into writing, I have had several experiences. Some bitter-sweet, some exceptional and some neutral. It’s the bitter-sweet ones I am interested in exploring with this post today.

Rejections are Still Sweet

Needless to say, I have had my own share of rejections. But do writing rejections really equal failure?

If you notice, I don’t describe any of my experiences as plain bitter. Even if they were not as uplifting, they were interesting somehow. They had (and continue to have) the sweetness factor. There lies the mentality of embracing your rejections and accepting them not as bitter but as bitter-sweet. And it makes a massive difference in how you move forward.

If you’re a writer, you will have your own set of raving readers. At the same time, you will have people who are not exactly your greatest fans. Every single writer goes through this: be it Stephen King or Mark Twain.

The point? Rejections are a part of our life–failure is not. The key lies in understanding that when you get rejected, you aren’t failing. You are just being provided a feedback by a reader of what they felt about your writing at that particular point in time.

So the best we can do is to thank the reader for their graciousness. Why? Because they took the time to give you feedback. Even if they didn’t say a word, their response said a lot. In the field of writing which thrives on how the readers (consumers of business) receive it, it is extremely important for writers to understand that even a rejection is a feedback and extract the right information from it.

The Impermanence of a Feedback

Recently, something happened which opened my eyes and made me tweak my perception of things. There was this gig I was really interested in. Though it was in a different niche and required a different writing style, I was up for it. I made contact with the person concerned and they promptly replied back that this was not the style they were looking for.

However, I continued to follow up the “rejection” by telling them what I had done in past and that they can always shoot me an email when they need me. While I expected this to be the end of conversation, the person came to closely know of my other writing I had done and offered me a new gig which was not their immediate priority and but a soon-to-be one.

In short, they saw I cared for my work and their feedback about me changed–from bitter-sweet to sweet.


Imagine what would have happened if I acted like a thumb-sucker and stopped marketing my skills with a bland “Thank you” email? I would never get the unadvertised gig. What this means is, even if you feel like you’re being turned down, it is not end of the road. It is a two-way fork–which extends on sides and just appears like a dead-end of failure.

So before anything, accept the fact that you are a human and you cannot please everyone on the planet. You can however, gain useful insights from each and every encounter you have with your readers. That information, be it in the form of disliking your work or its rejection, is gold. You learn.

Take feedback to heart but don’t consider it as a failure. Because there is none.

How do you cope with bitter-sweet feedback? Was there a time when you considered feedback as failure? Tell us your story in the comments.

Photo by Angelo González via flickr.

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18 Responses to “Failure: There’s None; There’s Only Feedback”

  1. jannatwrites May 12, 2011 at 3:06 pm #

    Your persistence paid off! I’m glad it worked out for you. I also like the substitution for the dreaded “f” word (faillure) – “feedback” puts a positive spin on it.

    • Pooja May 13, 2011 at 1:01 pm #

      Thank you Janna. Aha. . .the substitution of the “f” word indeed!


  2. Ollin May 14, 2011 at 11:24 am #

    Wonderful! I’m so happy for you. Such wise advice and I will take it to heart. Good reminder that persistence pays off in the end.

    • Pooja May 16, 2011 at 12:45 pm #

      Thank you Ollin. :)

      I hope you’re doing super-good, as ever!


  3. Shail Raghuvanshi May 26, 2011 at 5:33 pm #

    Hi Pooja,

    Liked your blog immensely.

    • Pooja September 29, 2011 at 1:06 pm #

      Thanks Shail. Hope to see you more often.


  4. Lauren July 4, 2011 at 4:47 pm #

    After taking a fiction workshop class, I realized that feedback is merely someone’s opinion. It’s your job as a writer to gather everyone’s thoughts on your work, and use the opinions you felt were most relevant and sound in revising your piece. Just like critics aren’t going to like everything you produce, you’re not going to like every piece of advice they give you. I learned it’s up to you to figure out what advice to take based on the story you’re creating.

    • Pooja September 29, 2011 at 1:05 pm #

      That’s the way to put it Lauren. You know, I’ve found myself cringing at the thought of how a friend could like a certain book, rave about it even, when I stopped reading it mid-way. :)

      There’s no right, no wrong. Only perspectives.


  5. Vicky August 16, 2011 at 7:51 am #

    Yeah! Another inspiring story full of true wisdom. I love this! I like how you took rejection and turned it into helpful feedback. I always saw a rejection as failure. I would rather choose being locked in a dark room, surrounded with wild animals outside than to face rejection or failure. Rejection seemed like another word for failure in my eyes, but after reading this, I now see rejection from a different perspective. Now I see rejection as another critique.
    Again, awesome read from someone who has been there. Thanks!

    • Pooja September 29, 2011 at 1:04 pm #


      Glad this could help and change your perspective :)


  6. yogendra August 22, 2011 at 3:48 am #

    i agree….i consider that failure is one type of expression of feedback.

  7. Make Money With Photography August 26, 2011 at 2:09 am #

    It takes maturity to view failure from a different perspective. When this happens nothing can stop growth fom any direction because we have managed to see beyond our short sight.

    • Pooja September 29, 2011 at 1:02 pm #

      Love how you put it. Indeed, it takes one to be mature — although I sometimes do giggle like a child ;)


  8. CJ October 4, 2011 at 12:40 pm #

    I like your approach to ‘failure’. Feedback is a much sweeter pill to swallow. I’m going to try to think of this next time I get an ‘error message’ from someone.

    • Pooja October 4, 2011 at 12:43 pm #

      Much easier to swallow, yes. I hope you will find its use when need be.


  9. Tahlia Newland October 17, 2011 at 11:28 am #

    This is excellent. Feedback’ is so much a part of being an artist of any kind that we really need to learn to handle it asap. Luckily, before I was an author, I was an artist, then a performer, so I’m used to it now.

  10. Zac | Turning Point Motivation January 25, 2012 at 3:00 am #

    So many treat failure like it’s final. but yes I do agree that failure does exist to teach us something.

    i believe that every time you feel like you’ve failed you should ask yourself “what did I learn from this?”

    Thanks for sharing. I came over here from Fear.Less blog.

    • Pooja January 26, 2012 at 8:03 pm #

      I like the way you put the question. Here’s one to soul searching!


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