The Study

Welcome the Failing

The first time I tried to write a novel, I failed in a major way. And by “major way,” I mean I ended up with about ten pages of handwritten text that I couldn’t read once I went back to them. Also: in spite of having a magnificent outline comprised of single-word descriptions (OPENING, ACTION, NIGHTMARE, MORE ACTION...), I’d pretty much run out of idea…which set me back, oh, a few hundred miles or so. 

I believe that’s what the kids these days refer to as an “epic fail."

Fail big or go home, I say.

If I remember correctly, it took me several months to fail at novel-writing. I had to really, REALLY, not-work at it in order to come to the conclusion that writing a novel is no small feat, and so I might as well pack it in, despite having several other novel ideas I was eager to fail at after the initial failure. Luckily, by not even trying to come up with anything more than a sentence worth of an attempt for each, I’d pretty much failed before I didn’t-try. It would be a full thirteen years before I even thought to give re-failing at full-length fiction a shot. But give re-failing a shot, I certainly did. And this time, I failed in the form of a finished 120,000-word manuscript…which wasn't half-bad, and gained me the attention of a very high-powered publishing agent, who spoke to me by phone twiceTWICE—before forgetting me entirely. That experience was a failure unto itself, which led me in a whole different direction with writing and publishing, which led me to at least a dozen other failures, until I finally failed my way into publishing my own work.

Yay for the little miracle of failing!

It’s perfectly natural to fear it, though, since failing in the generally-accepted sense represents some sort of downfall or misstepand in most instances, those are perceived as indications of time wasted. I don’t see it that way. For me, failing is learning—not just what missteps I might have made that I’ll need to figure a way around in order to not make them again, but learning what sort of meddle it really takes to get from point A to point Z, however long it takes, and even when success isn't immediate....and nobody who’s ever been successful at anything worth doing has ever succeeded at it on the first try.

Not a one.

The way I see it, failure is a valuable opportunity to test out your sea legs, and a necessary part of both the creative and the entrepreneurial processes…and if you intend on succeeding at self-publishing, you’re going to be doing both. ALL the time.

Imagine how short your career will be if you let failure stop you from succeeding.

Take it from me: the quicker you start failing, the quicker you’ll be on the road to success.

And for the record, I fail to write a finished novel EVERY TIME I make the attempt at writing one. And it’s happened a lot over the years, especially since I learned to welcome failure as an integral aspect of being an author. I call those failures “rough drafts.” They’re little miracles in their own rights.

I recommend failing at them as much as possible.


Steven LunaComment