Friday Fun – Biggest Writing Failure

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?

M. Shafer, Photo

M. Shafer, Photo

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, Master Certified Life CoachDiane 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…

(Also, I’ll be working on my book at my One Day Writer’s Retreat on October 17th, in Nashua. Please join me if you can. For more information, please click here. )

JME5670V2smCROPJamie 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-shotWendy 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.

15 thoughts on “Friday Fun – Biggest Writing Failure

  1. My biggest writing failure and therefore my biggest regret is failing to write. For years, decades even I’ve known I wanted to write. I did so only intermittently. Even though advice of experts and logic told me that writers should write – I didn’t. I didn’t write daily, or regularly on any consistent level. I wrote now-and-again, I wrote when occasion forced me to but despite believing that writing was my passion

  2. Sorry, I accidently pressed send before I completed what I wanted to say. Will re-send as I can’t see how I can edit, or remove. Apologies for messing this up! 😦

  3. My biggest writing failure and therefore my biggest regret is failing to write. For years, decades even, I’ve known I wanted to write. I did so only intermittently. Even though advice of experts and logic told me that writers should write – I didn’t. Despite believing that writing was my passion I didn’t write daily, or regularly on any consistent level. I wrote when occasion forced me to but hardly ever for the pleasure and satisfaction of enjoying the craft. Yep! I’d say failure to pursue a regular writing habit is my biggest failure.

    By the way – can you tell me what NHWN means?

  4. My biggest writing failure stems from how I learned to write. My writing developed under the pretense that writing should be objective. In school, we were always taught to eject the “I” and “You” from writing. I never wrote for myself and wrote for tasks and endless assignments. I loved writing, but lost the passion for writing as a means of exploring vernacular for the purpose of an “A+”. I found myself “failing” to write passionately.

    In order to re-establish myself as a writer capable of more than thesis writing, it was crucial to admit I had this problem. I had to replace my objective, distant identity with a more honest one. My ultimate gain from this process, is rediscovering my identity as a writer and individual. It has been a beautiful journey of discovery through ink scribbles and key clacking.

  5. I, like Ladycee and impossiblebebong, put off writing way too long. There was a point in time when I could have chucked everything and gone for the writing life. I didn’t do it. I stuck with the job. And even with the job, I had time to write but I didn’t do it. I would say that moment of procrastination has proven to be my greatest writing failure.

  6. My biggest writing failure is being overly critical of myself. I’ve written a lot that I stopped half way through and abandoned because it didn’t measure up to this big, beautiful, romanticized, life-changing work I had in mind. Alternatively, I’ve been writing every day that I can and just putting it out there. It’s helping me overcome the fear of failure because it’s out in the world now, able to be criticized or ignored by anybody. And how would I get better without finishing things and having people tell me why they are bad?

  7. My biggest writing failure is that I had postponed following the passion of writing. I thought I will write when I have time. But now I say I will find time to write daily..
    I will conquer this fear of failure and I will believe more in my talent. I found my element at last, I will not abandon it anymore .

  8. From the perspective of where I am in life this would be my advice. I affirm what is written above. Write something daily. Forget about writing a best seller. Think of your book as the fullest expression of your personal creative ability and completely let fame, fortune, best seller etc drop by the way side. Enough for than when the story is complete. At the end of 2014 I had an unexpected serious op with the ‘hanging over possibility’ that perhaps I won’t live to ie 100. Talk about incentive. I got out all the ‘unfinished stuff’. This month my 1st Book of Meditations (already published in Upper Room I might add) will be published. My second novel Marranga-Limga (It was going to be one of the greatest stories every written!) I finished it! Not nearly as grand but finished. (I sent it for ‘assessment’ – I paid for the opinions). It too will be published later this month. Amazon will be featuring all three shortly. Grand writing?. Probably not BUT at least all the unfinished won’t be some drawer for the next generation to sort through. Feed back so far has been very positive. I really don’t care. I’m writing now with such a passion. Carpe Diem everyone.

  9. I don’t know if only writing failures have a place here. I have had a couple of business failures mainly of the external economic situations-crisis- but I have learned not to postpone my decisions and act as soon as I sense that things are not going the way they should. I am working now on my novel plan as I intend to participate in this year’s Nanowrimo contest. My working title is “backtracking” and I shall use this blog to let you know of my progress. Have a good weekend everybody, from the Greek islands.

  10. Love this idea! My biggest failure is probably creating an author page on Facebook even after I knew I shouldn’t, since now I need to update two FB accounts and it just seems way too repetitive. FB should be reserved for your friends and family, since the social media marketing on it isn’t that hot right now.

  11. Pingback: Weekend Edition – Welcome Home, Dear Writer | Live to Write – Write to Live

  12. My biggest writing failure was when I had been writing a book and in the most interesting part of it I am empty of all ideas and even end up with a very boring piece. Which I too feel that is too boring for myself to read so, I cannot expect anyone to read it and enjoy.

  13. Dear Readers,
    Thank you for sharing your failures here. Like me, most of you regret not writing. We can change that in the moment…and the next moment…and the next.

    Keep writing, all! (and NHWN stands for New Hampshire Writer’s Network, which is us, the bloggers, but also the readers!)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s