Positive Writer

This blog is about overcoming doubt and creating work that matters!

Why Failure IS an Option for Writers (and everyone else!)

“Failure is not an option.”

We hear it all the time. People have even made T-shirts with that motto. And by saying it’s not an option, we associate failure as a negative thing.

But what if it were an option?

Failure IS an Option

What holds us back when we’re writing? What causes us to stop in the middle of a sentence and hit the backspace button? For me—and for many of you, I’m sure—there are three things:

1. I’m stuck.
2. I’m bored.
3. I’m scared.

Which one used to stop me the most? If you thought number three, you’re right!

Early on in the stages of writing—before I found these fantastic writing websites, like “The Write Practice” and “Positive Writer”—I would find myself stopping and deleting more often than I was click-clacking away on my keyboard.

It was infuriating, and I had no idea what was wrong. I knew exactly where my story was going, but I couldn’t for the life of me find a way to get there.

After a few minutes of digging, I found the problem.

I was scared.

Scared of upsetting my readers, scared of what people would think of me, scared of making a mistake.

But what’s the worst that could happen if I made a mistake?

The worst thing would be making that mistake, and mistakes can be fixed. When I’m editing, I constantly think, “Oh, there’s where I went wrong. I’ll be sure not to do that again.” And I fix it.

“Failing” has made me a better writer.

If I hadn’t made that mistake—or fifty, or hundreds of those mistakes—I wouldn’t have learned from it.

If you’re not learning something about writing each day, you’re not growing as a writer. (Click to Tweet)

Stop making failure a negative thing and start writing. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and start creating.

And if you do mess up, do your best to learn from it. Trust me, you’ll be much better off.

What if your first book was sold to a publisher quickly, but then each of your next 5 books were turned down?

That exact scenario happened to none other than, Danielle Steel, currently the best selling author alive and the fourth bestselling author of all time.

I thought I should write a book! I tried and I did, and it sold remarkably quickly. Then I thought I’ll do this again, but then I wrote five others that nobody ever wanted. I had five unpublished in between my first and the next published book. (Source)

~Danielle Steel

Keep learning. Keep writing. Keep growing.

What have you failed at, but learned valuable and necessary lessons from? Share in the comments.

About The Magic Violinist

I am a home schooled teenager who daydreams, writes, reads, and does nerdy stuff in my free time. I have two awesome parents, a wonderful little brother, and an adorable, crazy dog named Scout. I blog at The Magic Violinist and am a regular contributor for The Write Practice. I'd say that I want to be an author when I grow up, but I don't think I can wait that long.

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Writer's Doubt the Book
  • http://www.jonstallings.com/ Jon Stallings

    My failure list is probably rather long. What i have learned most though is that I an responsible. I can blame failures on other nor can I wait for someone to come around and pick me up. So I fail, I get up and move on.

    • themagicviolinist

      That’s a great attitude to have when you’re going into the writing business. :) I admire your perseverance!

  • Marcy Mason McKay

    I had a well-respected agent representing novel #3 of mine, but we parted ways before it sold. At the time, I thought that was a failure. From that pain, I wrote novel #4. My best work believe and landed the agent of my dreams. She left the business before we submitted my book for publication. That still feels like a failure even though it wasn’t my fault. If we keep writing, it’s not a failure. just lessons learned.

    • themagicviolinist

      Agreed! :) Those lessons can also be inspiration for other projects, like your fourth novel was.

      • Marcy Mason McKay

        EVERYTHING can be a “lesson learned.” That’s just hard to remember when you’re in the middle of one; especially if it’s painful.

        • themagicviolinist

          So true!

  • http://www.finallywriting.com/ Jackie

    The Magic Violinist~what a lovely and inspiring piece. I have definitely felt stuck, bored and scared when embarking on a creative journey. I have found that the more I write, and write through those difficult feelings, the more I learn and grow. Thank you!

    • themagicviolinist

      Thank you! :) I’m glad you’re making your way in the writing world. (It can be a scary place, sometimes.)

  • http://www.naomitsvirko.com/blog Naomi Tsvirko

    Spot on Magic Violinist! It’s all about persistence and a lot of patience!!!

    • themagicviolinist

      He he, persistence I can do, patience I’m still working on. ;)

  • http://www.liveitforward.com/ Kent Julian

    Magic Violinist…you are one of the reasons I love serving students! Keep living into your bigger story. #ShowUpandShine (http://www.KentJulian.com)

    • themagicviolinist

      Aww, thank you. :)

  • Leanne Dyck

    And being scared to succeed is a real thing too.

    • themagicviolinist

      Ha ha, yes, I suppose it is.

    • George McNeese

      It can be scary when you’re successful. There’s the fear of not being to replicate that success. I saw a TED talk with Elizabeth Gilbert. It’s one of my favorite videos. The video is about grabbing hold of that spark of creativity. In the beginning, she talks about the fear of being a “one-trick pony”.

      Success is a real fear, but it shouldn’t define who we are. I’m a firm believer in letting your work speak for you. I have to remind myself that I’m writing for me first and everyone else second. That’s the way it should be. Being successful, no matter how we define it, is a by-product of what we love.

  • George McNeese

    I fail at finishing works. I’ll complete drafts and edits, but won’t do anything afterwards. Sometimes, it’s because I’m bored with the story and/or the writing process. The hard truth is that I’m scared of what others might think. Even though I’ve been published, the fear does not dissipate. There is a mix of a fear of failure and success. I worry that I’m not that good of a writer. But one thing I’ve come to realize is that no matter what, I can claim that I am a writer. I enjoy writing and I love being creative. That is what defines me.

    • themagicviolinist

      YES! Write what you love and don’t worry about the rest. Thanks for sharing. :)

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  • Danielle Hanna

    Excellent, Magic Violinist. I had arrived at this same conclusion myself, and am thrilled to find the thought voiced by another writer–and another home schooler, nonetheless! (I’m a grad.) I was surprised to read your bio at the end and learn that you’re only a teen. You think and write like a woman beyond your years!

    Indeed, don’t wait to grow up to become an author. You’re well on your way now. During my early twenties, I concluded that a living as an author was impossible and tried the conventional approach. I now view those years as time completely wasted. I recently quit “conventionalism” and have just started writing full-time, trusting that passion, diligence, and hard work will pay back more dividends than following the beaten path.

    • themagicviolinist

      Wow, thank you! :)

      Good for you! You should always go after your passion. If it makes you happy, hang on to it.

      (It’s always nice to meet another homeschooler. Thanks for commenting!)

  • Miriam N

    wow. Thanks for this post magic violinist. I hate to admit it but I believe that I’m scared to start writing too.(also a teenager but that’s besides the point). Your post inspired me and I thank you for that. Because of your post I think I’ll start writing my novel again. (its been a way for quite a while). Thanks again.