Fail Up

Friday, January 13, 2012


Author's note: This post was first published April 28th, 2010.  Please feel free to comment.  As I am busy climbing a mountain now, I'll respond to all comments when I return.  Thanks!

Not a single one of you reading this wants to fail at the writing game.  I don't either.

But statistics are against us.  After all, as the famous demotivational poster points out: it could be that the purpose of our lives is only to serve as warnings to others.

So I was blown away by this recent article about why some authors never succeed.  I tell ya, I wish I could report that there was much here I already knew, but my impression was exactly the opposite: there is a lot here I have barely given thought to or am only now beginning to wrap my head around.

A few quick thoughts after reading this article:

  • Learning about the industry is certainly key--but there is a lot to know.  Make sure you set time aside to do your homework.
  • Accepting feedback is critical, but equally important is finding good sources of feedback.  Not doing so can be a dealbreaker.  Classes and forums can only go so far--get out there and find other writers that are at your experience level and that share your interests who you can exchange work with.
  • I think right along with measuring success in book sales, measuring success in blog posts (for us greener writers who have not been published yet) can be equally misleading.  If the fiction isn't getting done but your blog is rocking, you may need to take a closer look at your priorities.

And I think the most important lesson is understanding that you are going to fail--that sooner or later you'll try and not succeed--but learning from your failures and pressing on.  "Fail up," as the author notes. 

So I ask you: how do you measure short and long-term success?  What are the measuring sticks you use to judge daily, monthly, and yearly progress?  What's your process when things don't go as planned?

7 bolts from the blue:

E.J. Wesley said...

Sounds like a great article, JP, I'm going to go check it out right now. I've been dwelling a lot on failure lately, probably because I've been struggling to find something to say on my blog. : )

Seriously, I get whiplash from how many times in a day I go between thinking I'll never give up and I'll never succeed. There has to be a middle ground, right?

Hope you're well.

WilyBCool said...

There is a lot to be said for eliminating the self doubt conversations in our heads. ;D

mshatch said...

One of the measures I use is the change in the responses I've gotten. I used to get the par for the course rejection letters, you know, thanks but no thanks and good luck. But in the last year or so I've been getting a lot more requests for partials and fulls and when I don't get a request I'll get something like, 'This was an intriguing query but I don't think I could sell this right now. Please do send something else.'

Another measure of success is that I catch my mistakes much sooner now, sometimes right after I've written them.

It is a slow process but I will take hope from these small things that tell me I'm getting closer.

Michael Offutt, Visitor from the Future said...

Have fun climbing the mountain. Take a picture of yourself tebowing at the top.

farawayeyes said...

Some days failing up feels like making an even bigger failure. Some days,I get it.

I have to admit that bit about the blog thing, has been bugging me. I love the immediate gratification of someone commenting on my blog. Especially when they think I'm, oh so clever, but it is NOT the priority.

BALANCE in all things is the key. Now, all I need to do is find it.

Jerry said...

Perhaps a bit hackneyed, but I figure one has to enjoy the work...excited to dive in. Otherwise, what's the purpose (other than money, fame and silly stuff like that).

Jeremy Bates said...

Failure is a part of our life, but learning from your failures and pressing on you to make you perfect..

Waddaya wanna say?

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