Friday, March 16, 2012

Embracing Failure

Dude, I can hear the groaning now. The muttered, "Really, Elana? We have to embrace the failure?"

To which I smile broadly and say, "Heck, yes you do!"

See, it's only by falling that we learn how to get back up. Everything we've done in our lives, from learning to walk, to holding a fork the right way, to driving a stick shift comes from failing first.

Why should we assume that writing will be any different? And not only writing, but the publishing process?

I think this is a mistake we make. We assume that because we're adults now, it's embarrassing to fail. Rejection is too hard to face. Revising, editing, submitting becomes too much to endure. Because we might fail--and then everyone will know.

I think that's the wrong way to look at it, because it is only through our mistakes, our trials, our failures that we learn.

When we attempt to write a story and then sell that story:

  • We learn how we write best.
  • We learn what conditions we need around us to be able to write.
  • We learn what kind of books we like.
  • We learn our strengths in crafting a story.
  • We learn our weaknesses.
  • We learn how to stop crying and start again.
  • We learn who's on our side, and who isn't.
  • We learn what's truly important in life.

And we do it all through writing, trying, failing.

So don't be afraid to fail! As for me, I'm going to embrace the failure. Turn it into fuel for my fire. Use it to learn, grow, change, improve.

It's a writing--and a life--lesson.

*sounds the battlecry* Who's with me? Are you ready to fail?

39 comments:

Tricia Clasen said...

Love this one. Such important lessons in failure. I especially love "learning our weaknesses" which is an essential life lesson. Thanks.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Totally yes. Because I totally made all the big mistakes in my writing when I started but over the years have learned so much from fixing them. And we certainly can't be perfect in life. Great post.

Alice said...

I'm with you!

Miranda Hardy said...

I'm ready to push forward and never give up, no matter what happens. Lol

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I don't see it as failure. I see it as a challenge to do better and grow as a writer.

Janet said...

I am doing this right now - and calling it the "Embrace Failure" project. 49 days (just turned 49), 49 queries. And I'm looking for rejections - a little reverse psychology since previous rejections have thrown me to the ground, caused me to curl up in a fetal position, and helped with the Liquor Commission's overall profit!! I need to look failure in the eyes and say "Nananabooboo"!

Good luck with your embracing, Elana :)

Marta Szemik said...

With you all the way! Very empowering post:) Thank you1

Kelly Hashway said...

I like to think failure brings you closer to success. :)

Christine Fonseca said...

Jumping off the cliff, baby...jumping off that cliff ;)

Diligent Writer said...

I'm so glad you sent this today when I'm in the editing phase. I really needed to read this. I hold onto every lesson but never thought of this when thinking of my writing. It's lessens my anxiety a little. Thanks!!!!

Bish Denham said...

This is so true. We have to try to find that little kid in ourselves. The who won't give up learning how to tie her shoe laces until she's got that perfect bow.

Thanks for this post.

Jemi Fraser said...

Love it! I'm in! :)

I've spent the last year and a bit working on what I learned from a couple of amazing agents and their comments. I hope to risk that failure again sometime before the end of the year! :)

L. Diane Wolfe said...

The more times we are willing to risk failure, the more chances we have to succeed.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

We can learn from our mistakes. And if we are really smart, we can learn from others' mistakes as well!

Linda Kage said...

Been there, done that, worn out the t-shirt, and READY TO FAIL AGAIN!!! Hell yeah. What a lovely inspiring post. Thanks.

Liza said...

Yep, you said it girl. If we open ourselves to the lessons, failures are amazing learning experiences. If we are strong enough to stick to our goals, then failure is just a tweak along the way that gives us the tools to jump forward!

Julie Daines said...

I agree with Alex J. Cavanaugh, learn from other people's mistakes. That's the route I try to take as often as possible.

E. Arroyo said...

Heck Ya!!! I'm with you! =)

Rena said...

I'm already a champion failure!

Wait...

That doesn't sound as good as I meant for it to sound. haha.

Great lesson. Especially about the crying.

I mean seriously. All writers have to get back up on the horse even though it bucked them in the face and then bit them in the shoulder while they were down.

Dry those eyes, grab the reigns, and write the hell outta that story! [salutes]

Linda Jackson said...

Far better it is to dare mighty things,
to win glorious triumphs,
even though checkered with failure,
than to take rank with those poor spirits who
neither enjoy much nor suffer much because
they live in the gray twilight that knows not
victory nor defeat. ~ Theodore Roosevelt

I am embracing the failure!

Angela Brown said...

Call it my unnecessary cling to the negative connotation that is the word "failure", but I'm not sure if I'm ready to fail. I'm ready to do. Ready to write and learn from the experience. Perhaps I can embrace "failing upwards". Yeah, I can do that. So here I go, Elana.

Let's fail upwards!

ryan graudin said...

You are absolutely right, Elana! I'm going through this process right now with a different project... It seems so silly that it's just as hard, if not harder, to write a book the second, third, fourth time. You have to fail to get better!

Lori Ann Freeland said...

Perfect timing, Elana. I have one foot hanging over the cliff--a request for the first 150 pages of my manuscript with no idea if she'll say, "Sorry, no thanks," or "send me the rest."

I'm vowing to learn something either way :)

Emily R. King said...

I'm already with you! : )

Failure doesn't scare me, giving up does.

I was once told that true failure takes a lot of hard work. It's more work TO fail than NOT to fail. I totally agree.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Yes, yes, Yes!! *raises pen and preapares for battle*

This is such a powerful truth, Elana!

Jenny S. Morris said...

This is a perfectly planned post. ;0) I just received my first query rejection! But if I don't receive that first one I can never receive the yes.

Thanks for the pep talk.

bethchristopher.com said...

What a timely post for me, as I'm slogging through the query swamp at the moment. It's such a roller coaster! Thanks for the extra dose of courage.

Carolyn V said...

You know it! I'm right there with the failure. But getting back up and trying again is how to fight back. :)

Angie said...

I'm ready! I don't think I would be nearly so happy now if this had been easy!

Angie said...

I'm ready! I don't think I would be nearly so happy now if this had been easy!

Marsha Sigman said...

I'm ready, I'm ready, I'm ready!

I keep picturing Spongebob Squarepants.

Nicole Zoltack said...

You only fail if you fail to learn from your mistakes.

Nichole Giles said...

Dude. I think we're getting similar brainwaves. Or there's something in the city water, because my blog post for today is eerily similar to this one. Even down to the title, Life After Failure.

That's why we're friends, yes?

*sounds the battlecry*

*singing* "They say quitters never win, but we walk the plank of a sinking ship. There's a world outside of my front door..." ~Fallout Boy

Martha Ramirez said...

Amen sista!! Yup yup. Michael Jordan failed. Abraham Lincoln failed. Every successful human being has failed one time or another.

Thanks for the reminder. Failure does sting and it's important to surround yourself with a support team (such as yourself).

So I say, bring it! Failure is welcome cuz without it, success is miles away.

tahlianewland.com said...

A lovely post. Failure isn't an end, it's part of the process of growing.
There's definitely something in the air and it's flowing world wide, I did a post on failure recently too http://tahlianewland.com/2012/03/15/the-beauty-of-failure/

A slightly different angle on that feeling you get when the bottom seems to have fallen out of your world.

Miriam Forster said...

YOU ARE READING MY MIND.

Or my blog. Whatevs.

*reaches for tinfoil hat just in case*

L.T. Elliot said...

Oh, failure I can do. I'm good at it, in fact. Success? That scares the hell out of me.

Leslie Rose said...

If I never sell a book this writing journey has send amazing books my way as a reader. Failure - bring it. Nothing like falling down and getting up again.

Melony said...

If we don't fail we can never succeed! Okay..I've failed! NEXT! ;)

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