Failing 101

I’m going to shatter a lot of aspiring writers’ illusions in just one sentence- failure is pretty much inevitable. There are some out there who think that all they have to do is type ‘The End’ and they’ll walk right into a book deal. This may be the case for some lucky writers, but for the majority of us it’ll take a few cracks at the whip before we land that elusive book deal. And failure isn’t confined to getting that dreaded rejection letter. It could be an idea that just hasn’t worked out or a story you just can’t get to work. Either way, not everything you do will be glittering with success.

But is this a reason to give up writing altogether? Of course not! Writing is a craft you never stop learning and any failures or mistakes are really learning opportunities in disguise. I saw Aine Warren’s post, which can be viewed here in which she says she has always been scared of failing. This really resonated with me as I have had the same feelings many times before. Undoubtedly, the worst thing for a writer is if nobody likes the book you’ve put your heart and soul into. It makes you question your writing ability as a whole but as I said in my post about criticism, it’s nothing to worry about. Not every literary agent will like your book but that’s OK. Everyone has different tastes and unless your book is REALLY out there (i.e. futuristic paranormal romance police procedural) then you have just as much chance as anyone of finding the right agent for you. Similarly, not every idea you have will turn into an Orange Prize-winning novel. Some ideas are meant to be just that- ideas. They can often act as jumping-off points for other ideas which can be developed further.

Never be scared of failing. The prospect of sending your work out into the world and having it completely flop is indeed scary, but if you believe in what you’re writing then the benefits far outweigh the risks. Writing isn’t for the faint-hearted; sometimes a giant leap of faith is what’s required. I completely understand where people who are afraid to fail are coming from- not too long ago, I was in the same position. It would’ve been the easiest thing in the world to give up and say writing “wasn’t for me” but where would the fun be in that? Writing is such a beautiful thing; the notion that a collection of words of your own choosing can move someone to laugh, cry or fall in love is absolutely fascinating to me. If you never try you’ll never know.


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