What Failure has taught me as a Writer

18 Jan

For about two weeks, the week of Christmas and the week of New Year, I was in a funk. I was filled with anxiety, overwhelmed and stressed out, depressed, and I could not write. I didn’t have the time, or when I did have the time I was too stressed out and overwhelmed to write. I sat down at the computer and as much as I wanted to write, I just could not get the words out–and they were there in the dark recesses of my overworked mind, but they were buried underneath the chaos of my life (the holidays, obligations, anxiety, depression, etc., etc.). So I felt like a F.A.I.L.U.R.E.

Writer’s write. That’s what we do. If you can’t write then what?

I took some time for myself and read. Reading. Oh how I love reading. I immersed myself in the written word. I began Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse series, and got through the first five in a week and a half. I read Truthwitch by Susan Dennard. I am still reading The Talisman by Stephen King, and am now also reading Mr. Mercedes by him as well. Not to mention the fact that I’m reading a poem a day from the Sylvia Plath’s book of poetry that I got for Christmas, and I’m also reading Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg and re-reading the Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.

Reading brought me back to me. And I was able to start writing again.

I was also able to take a long, hard look at what had happened to me–the “writer’s block,” and the feelings of failure attached to not being able to write.

Failing to write, feeling like a failure, has taught me quite a few things that I needed to learn, to realize–to understand.

I am stronger. As a writer and as a person. Stronger than I think I am. I’m also more determined now. I am braver than I think I am. The self doubt, insecurity, frustration, stress, anxiety, ADHD, depression–I rose above it, got past the chaos that was my life (over the holidays–Don’t get me wrong, I love my family and I had a wonderful holiday, but there is something about the holidays that just zaps my creativity, at least in regard to writing).

I picked myself up, shook the dust from my keyboard and started writing again. Perseverance. Resilience. I have those things, along with will power. I might not always believe in myself the way I ought to, but I always pick myself back up and try again.

I remembered why a first draft is simply a first draft… It’s there to get the words out there, to get them on the page, to get the creative juices flowing. It isn’t supposed to be perfect. It isn’t supposed to come out of the creative womb perfect–it’s a work in progress. It’s the progress that makes the difference. Once I’ve got the story on othe page and am ready to edit and revise that’s when I can start working on plot holes, pacing, and all the other things like grammar, dialogue, showing not telling….

I feel good. So good in fact, that I’m going to end this post right now, make myself another cup of coffee and get back to working on my novel.



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One response to “What Failure has taught me as a Writer

  1. Julie Allan

    January 18, 2016 at 2:39 pm

    On this MLK day there has been a smattering of postings with some of his famous quotes and one is: “Faith is taking the first step when you can’t see the whole staircase.” I think writers need to believe that writing is getting words on the page not knowing where they will end up, keep writing!



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