Why I’m OK with Failure

In one of last week’s blog posts, I shared some of the big life lessons that I hope to teach my children.  One of them was “it’s OK to fall; it’s how you pick yourself up that counts”.  I think falling/failing is an important part of life.  We learn a lot from these experiences.  I really do believe this… in theory.  But not when it comes to myself.

I have an intense fear of failure.  I always have.  And, for the most part, this fear has served me well.  Over the years, it has propelled me to get things done.  It ensured that I never disappointed my colleagues or clients.  But it also meant that I put unnecessary pressure on myself.  And that I probably said “yes” at times when I should have said “no”.

I am absolutely loving my writing course.  I’m learning a ton about novel writing and am more convinced than ever that this is what I want to be doing.  So far, we have covered the structure of a novel, transitions, character and point of view.  The class content has been so rich.  However, I have been struggling with the assignments.  More to the point, I have been struggling with the fact that all of the assignments are intended to culminate in the first chapter of my novel and an outline of the rest of the book.  I’m just not there yet.  I have been toying with several possible plot ideas, but haven’t zoned in on the “one”.

Last week, I came to the conclusion that I had one of two options (the recognition that I actually have a choice was a huge step forward for me!):  (1) I could fake my way through the course by picking a random plot idea and dutifully completing the assignments, or (2) I could accept that I still need time for my idea to evolve and not undertake the weekly exercises.  I chose #2.

I cannot even begin to tell you how unusual an experience this was for me.  Anyone who knows me well knows that my default answer is always “yes”.  But, I am learning that I don’t always need to rise to the occasion.  I don’t need to accept every challenge that comes my way.  And so, I have let my writing teacher know that I will not be handing in the assignments.  On the one hand, this is a huge relief, but on the other, it is very strange knowing that I will technically “fail” this course.  Yikes!

Interestingly, in this week’s class, my teacher talked about getting our first book published.  She spoke firsthand as to how arduous a process it can be.  It is a process that is often replete with rejection.  While I choose to remain optimistic about my writing journey, I also need to recognize (and embrace!) that this failure might be but the first on my road to becoming a published author.

2 thoughts on “Why I’m OK with Failure

  1. Michelle, I’m really loving your posts. You’re already proving to be a great writer, and on top of that, your thoughts so often mirror mine. I always get a feeling of “oh good!” when I see an email announcing a new posting. I’ll keep reading and will root for you as you continue to work on ideas for your book.


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