The Process of Failure

Fear of failure has stalled many a writer. In growing up, we’re taught that failure is bad. Don’t fail your test, don’t fail your classes, don’t fail the team, and don’t fail your family. Just. Don’t. Fail. At anything. When we ‘fail’ we are conditioned to believe that there is something fundamentally wrong with us. We are not worthy of success. (To this I say, “Hooey.”) We can be paralyzed by our seeming inability to do what someone else appears to do effortlessly.

Failure as a writer can take many forms, and it can take us out of our comfort zone in a big way.

  1. Bad reviews of our work, or no reviews at all.
  2. Few or no book sales.
  3. Basic invisibility in the publishing world. No one seems to notice all the hard work you’ve put into your book. What if nobody reads it?
  4. Rejection letters.
  5. Your editor or critique partner doesn’t like the passages that you poured hours of work into and feel are some of your best work, and they suggest you cut them all.

Really, what would happen in your life if any of these things took place? I can tell you every single one has happened to me. And ultimately they didn’t change my life in the ways I thought they would. The sun still comes up, I still go to the evil day job. Still fix dinner, and still struggle to find time to write. Maybe I’ve failed enough times that it doesn’t matter as much as it used to. Or I finally understand that writing is a process, and what others may view as failure is really just part of one’s progression as a writer. I can’t not write, therefore I must continue on.

The act of writing is what brings me joy. Creating a vision with words and sharing it with the world fulfills me like nothing else. And yet, it includes failure. Just like it includes editing, proofreading, formatting and all of the other things that are necessary to make a book happen. Failure simply means discarding things that aren’t working and keeping at it, until you find out what does work. As I’ve come to understand this, failing doesn’t scare me nearly as much as it used to.

Here’s to embracing our failures because truly, they are part of our success.


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About Sutton Fox

Sutton Fox has been published by Lyrical Press, Gypsy Shadow Publishing and wrote a bi-monthly column for an auto racing magazine for several years. She traded life in Bluegrass Country for life in the Windy City in a home she shares with The Man, a lonely cat, and her beloved dog, Lucy. When she’s not working the edj, you can find her writing or spending time with her extended family.

2 Responses to The Process of Failure

  1. This is such a great post. Fear of failure kept me from writing until I was 30 and fear of regret became stronger.

    I’ve failed a lot over the last twelve years, but I’ve learned to accept it as part of the process.
    Lori Sizemore recently posted…Guest Blog: CB ClarkMy Profile

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