Updated: Sep 25, 2020
Today’s post is going to be short and simple. Seriously, like really short and super simple. Are you ready?
If you want to succeed as a writer, you can’t be afraid to fail.
Okay, well, maybe I can’t leave it at just that. But that’s pretty much the point of everything else I’m going to say, so hold that statement in your mind as I explain just a little.
Writing includes a LOT of unknowns. What will you write? What should you write? What type of writing will you be best at? What genre should you write in? And that’s just to start. Once you have the big picture, there are still the questions of how complex the plot should be, what the plot should be, who your characters are, what they’re like, their backstories and relationships, the world they live in, etc. etc. etc.
There are so many CHOICES in writing, and while this is what makes it fun, it also means that every single choice is a possible failure. What if the choice you make for your character ends up making readers not like your story? What if the world you create doesn’t interest anyone but you? What if the entire story falls flat when you show it to readers, or the genre isn’t best suited to your skill set, or what if no one likes what you’ve written, and all you receive is disinterest or negative feedback?
Yes, what if?
Really, think about that for a minute: What if you do write something that completely fails and no one seems to like it and it makes you doubt that you’re even cut out for this writing thing at all? What then?
That’s basically the worst-case scenario, right? It’s every writer’s fear. So what if it happens to you? Do you stop writing? Do you write for your own enjoyment but hide it away somewhere? Do you give up entirely?
Or do you decide you can be better, you want to be better, and commit to learning and trying again… and again and again and again?
Your answers to those questions determine whether there is a chance of any level of success for you as a writer. Seriously. Because if you write something and share it, yes, you may fail. You may be embarrassed. It may hurt. But then you can learn from the criticism, research and gain knowledge in the areas you lack, find writers you respect and learn from them, and get better. BUT… if you don’t write, or if you write but hide it away, you are removing the opportunity for feedback entirely. And without feedback, you will never get that uncomfortable friction — that criticism — that is so essential to growth.
When a knife needs to be sharpened, rubbing it gently with a soft cloth isn’t going to do it. It needs resistance, it needs friction — it must be scraped against something hard enough to actually shave away the dull bits and leave a sharp edge in their place.
As writers, we are knives. If we are to get sharper, we have to be willing to endure friction. We have to be willing to fail, and to do it bravely — accepting the criticism and embarrassment with the determination to grow from it, and to never ever ever give up.
So this is my motivational speech to you today, any of you who are writers: GO FAIL. Take a risk. Do something bold with your writing. Put yourself out there. And then if you receive criticism, be glad! Accept it. Embrace it. Let it sharpen you.
And be better for it.