Failure and Rejection as a Creative

Trying to “build a platform” and promote the Get Afraid Journal as a first-time author has been incredibly difficult. Acquiring blurbs has been an even greater challenge. I wasn’t expecting this much rejection. However, I’m used to shouting into the void.

Here’s a list of all of the creative failures and “successes” I can remember. And by “successes” I mean they were marginally successful.

Crafty Memes Rickrolling


Jed’s Jokes & Other Stuff
AOL Newsletter featuring jokes and comedy.

A popcorn business I never acted on.

Tumblr featuring the most important thing to ever happen to you. No submissions.

Tumblr featuring art that had never been on the internet before. No submissions.

Comedic video series of pictures that talked.

Hurty Elbow
Daily comedy blog I ran for 5 years.

Celebrity Fiction
Fan fiction featuring parodies of celebs.

Tweeted under my name and many, many aliases. Very few followers.

Little engagement. Few followers.

Facebook Pages
No engagement. Few followers.

Dark Disney
A parody Twitter account of Walt Disney

Huge Advertisements
A site that’s only content was huge advertisements.

5 Minute “Man vs. Wild
Recaps of the show. I have no idea why I thought this was a good idea.

Barkin’ Around
A comedy podcast “for dogs”.


Man Afraid of Everything
A podcast about doing things I was afraid of. Never grew a big audience, but the personal growth was invaluable.

I Used to Be Younger
Portraits of people now and when they were younger.

Paper templates of memes you could print and cut out to put on your desk.

Tik Tok
Fun to make videos. Lots of interaction and freedom to be super weird.

Minimalist Movie Posters
Movie posters that were a single swatch of color.

Release the Kraken
One of the first two panel memes on the internet.

Parody video of Daft Punk featuring memes.

It’s hard to define what I learned from these successes and failures, but I think the most important lesson is to just keep trying. Keep writing, keep drawing, and keep creating.

You can’t base the success of your work on things you can’t control, like retweets and likes.

Was it fun to make? Did you lose yourself in the process? Did you grow? Then it was a success.

What to Ask After Rejection or Failure

  1. Did I learn anything I can act on?
  2. What’s next?

That’s about it.

I think the reason it was so hard for me to walk away from some of these projects is that they didn’t have an end date. It was impossible to call it quits, and move on, because I’d wonder if they’d take off if I just put in another week or two.

Sometimes it feels like pouring your heart and soul into something and then pushing it off a cliff.

No replies. No engagement. No acknowledgement. It’s hard, especially if you’re the kind of person who believes art isn’t complete until it’s viewed by an audience. You know people are listening and reading, but how do you know for sure?

The biggest problem was I didn’t have a real reason to create a lot of these things. I just thought they were good ideas. I didn’t have a “Why”. Why was I making them? Was it for myself? Was I passionate about it? Was the process rewarding?

I loved making the Get Afraid Journal. I enjoyed coming up with challenges and ranking them. It was fun to test and revise.

For those reasons, I feel like I can already add the Get Afraid Journal to my Success Column.

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