Wednesday, June 4, 2014
Overcoming the Sense of Failure as a Writer #IWSG
Don't see it as failure.
You know that tenth, fiftieth, one hundredth rejection letter you're holding in your shaking hands? That isn't failure. Instead it's another stone that's been turned on a beach full of possibilities. You know that paragraph/chapter/story that's refusing to write? That isn't failure either. It's a challenge to accept, a chance to rethink, a puzzle to solve.
Mistakes and mess happen, especially when we're writing a first draft. Even when we've reached a tenth draft. The process of writing is a long, slow and messy one. We have to dig in and get our hands dirty to find a treasure. The first try is bound to turn up a wonky throw-away. It's okay, though. We can tweak, adjust, and fix until that baby shines. Or we can toss it and start over. It's just part of the process and doesn't somehow make us failures as writers.
Make failure work for you.
Say you've failed to achieve a goal. A wholesome wallow can be good for the soul. So do your wallowing, maybe eat some chocolate. But don't let the dark depths drown you. Stand up, dust yourself off and get to business. I don't mean blindly charge forward, gritting your teeth in determination until the next fall. I mean, get to the business of dissecting the failure. Ask yourself where you might've tripped up so you don't trip on the same pebble again. Learn where your weaknesses lurk. Then actively work toward strengthening those areas.
Do the same for your successes. Don't simply celebrate and move on. Analyse why you might've succeeded. Why was this time different? You might be tempted to think you were simply lucky. While luck can have a small amount to do with success, it's never the whole story, nor even the main story. If you spend the time to uncover the cogs turning behind your successes, then you'll be more likely to make success happen again.
There's so much more to writing than sticking to schedules and following the rules. We are complex creatures who feed on creativity and wild extremes of emotion. Writing helps us make sense of the chaos. So the only time we fail is when we quit writing.
What are some mistakes you've learned from?
Photo: A photo I took a few years ago in a cave on the south coast of Australia.
This post was written for the Insecure Writer's Support Group where we share our encouragement or insecurities on the first Wednesday of the month.
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