Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.
QUESTION: Sometimes, the things that feel like our biggest failures can actually be the most valuable learning experiences. And, sometimes, they are just a bummer. What’s your biggest failure, and have you learned anything from it?
Deborah Lee Luskin: Oh, this is painful. I’m struggling with a book right now – or was. I think one of the best lessons I’ve learned from past failures is the importance of not pushing it, letting it lie fallow. This works for fiction, of course, which I’m writing on speck. Not so effective with work-for-hire. What I’ve learned from that work is to ask for help when I get stuck, either from a colleague/reader or back to the editor for clarification.
Diane MacKinnon, MD: Back in 2008 I wrote an article as part of my Master Life Coach training for Martha Beck. After a couple rounds of critiques and rewrites, Martha told me to “do some research and write a book” expanding on what I’d written in the article. I still haven’t done it (or at least, not a lot). A best-selling author (who’s work I love!) read something I wrote and thought it was worth writing more about. I do, too. So what am I waiting for? I’m waiting for my son to start school–Uh, started school a couple of weeks ago! Stay tuned…
Jamie Wallace: I count two primary kinds of failure in my life: things I did not do as well as I could have, and things I did not do at all.
In the things-I-did-not-do-as-well-as-I-could-have category I count all the assignments I have rushed in order to make a deadline. Each time I find myself in a situation where time is limited, I am deeply disappointed that I cannot move through the process more slowly and leave more “breathing room” and time for letting a piece sit so that I can go back and do more intensive revising and editing. Whether what I’m working on is a column, a blog post, or a piece for one of my marketing clients, I am very often submitting something that’s frighteningly close to an actual first draft. This may, technically, be more a time management failure than a writing failure, but it does affect the quality of my work.
As for writing work I have not yet done, that list is long, and the cause of my failure is simple: FEAR. I could blame a lack of time or a lack of knowledge or a lack of connections, but it all boils down to being afraid that I will fail, which is, in itself, the worst kind of failure of all. I’m working on that one.
Wendy Thomas: My biggest writing failure? Not following my heart.
Ever since I was young I loved to write and yet when I applied to college I applied to a Pharmacy program. Found out (thankfully) that I didn’t like the program and dropped out. I thought about writing but figured that you couldn’t make a living out of doing something that you enjoyed and that seemed to come naturally.
Work is work, right?
It wasn’t until I was forced out of my job (it went to India) as an adult that I turned to writing. I’ve been doing it ever since.
But oh the time that wouldn’t have been wasted, had I only followed my heart early on.