Learning from Failure

Learning from Failure
Image provided by mikef_man

It’s been over a week since I, last, published a post to this blog. In my estimation, I’d say I’m hooked on this practice. In truth, I think I’m probably using this corner of cyberspace as a diary. True, there are many things I leave out that I feel are too personal to share, but most of these things I wouldn’t write anywhere. They’re fine where they are in the back vaults of my mind.

I am getting back into writing, the kind where some real progress is made. No, I’m not leaping or bounding as if I’m dancing through a field of words or anything. Still, I’ve got my focus to the grindstone.

Almost a month ago, I wrote a #weekendcoffeeshare post about getting into the groove of writing again. I told about how I was switching from being a pantser to a plotter and writing character sketches and scene summaries before starting, once again, on my WiP. I said something about hiding my yWriter too.

I failed with that approach. It’s embarrassing in a small way. I’m not red-faced or anything though. Victor Salinas explained it adequately in his post at A Writer’s Path. He stated that failure can make you humble, and at the same time, help you learn what works and what doesn’t work.

All this time I’ve been trying so hard to not be one of those who fail, one of those who has to pull themselves up by their boot straps and begin again, and again, and again. It’s pure vanity too, which is also embarrassing. I don’t like people who are blatantly vain, and yet here I sit, in all of my misplaced pride, doing the same thing. It’s shameful. Now I’m one within the masses, drudging over my work, even “bleeding” a little.

Although completing the sketches and the summaries were excellent exercises, and I plan to expand on them along the way, I’ve gone back to my beloved yWriter and I’m making some good progress. It’s a relief to know that the passion for this story is still within me.

The fallacy of these last weeks’ efforts have helped me see my weaknesses and my strengths, mostly my weaknesses though. This experience has shown me what a wuss I’ve been.

I need to push myself harder. Walking away, if only for a short while, before I’ve even tried to “pop a few arteries” in my pea-brain, isn’t a good thing for me to do. I do better when I “bleed” a little. Stopping a writing session because my husband has decided he just must play some computer games is, also, not a good thing for me to do. I need to just turn his presence off, tell my mind he is not there. If need be, I need to tell him to find something, anything to do outside this room.

It’s through the act of toiling over the WiP that I found inspiration and motivation. By getting to the effort of telling the story, I was able to find that unexplainable reason to go on and keep going on. It is true that having a schedule of some sort is invaluable. However, to be a slave to that routine, and not write a word until the designated time will do more harm than good. And by that same token, writing gibberish because it’s the appropriate time, just to keep up the “good” habit is sheer lunacy. If something obtrusive is in the way of creativity, writing prattle during a session isn’t going to help at all. During those times is when I’m either working on summaries, sketches, or research. I’m still productive despite the lack of a word count.

Concededly, when I don’t use that designated time for carving out the story, I feel I’m not getting anything done. As a rational person, I know this is false, but my heart says I’m not putting in what is required. Required by who? By me, of course. Hopefully, once I see enough results, this foolishness in me will stop.

As I stated in my last post, I decided to take a more slackened approach to my blog until some time after the Labor Day weekend. I think in declaring this change in my daily routine is what has helped me get past some of the ugly issues surrounding my strife with motivation. It was a stand without any confines or limits to speak of, except a suggestion of when the lacked time may end.

There’s still a whole full month of summer, plus some. I’m hoping to make some progress that I can be proud of in a way that isn’t misplaced.

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” ― Maya Angelou


20 thoughts on “Learning from Failure

  1. I believe there are no writers that successfully master the art of discipline, routine, etc. It’s hard. Usually, one has to try different approaches to find its own approach. I started as a pantser, then realized it was better to plot, then realized again it was not that good to plot too much and so on. It’s a learning curve. Those methods that give “the perfect” routine don’t help everybody. We’re all different. I don’t believe in hitting word counts per day. I only believe in hitting an amount of productive time. Either by plotting, writing, researching, editing, or even writing this blog. You’re not alone. The good thing is that through these blogs we can support each other 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, Carla, the blogging is supportive. Although I had always assumed people wouldn’t through tomatoes as my blog, I didn’t expect the understanding I’ve received.

      Of course, everyone’s writing process is different in some way or form just because we’re all different. I was so hoping I would be one of the very few who doesn’t have to trying umpteen times with the same story. As I said, the failure humbled me. I’m one in the masses now.


  2. I’m a pantser, so not really big on routine, but despite that I’ve found without a doubt that early in the day is when I get the most done. I rarely make myself write too much though, aside from when I’m trying to work out a chapter that’s gone sideways or needs to be amended severely to fit the story line, I just go with the tides instead, and surprisingly it works for me.
    But not with editing… hehe If only first drafts were flawless right!
    Hope you work out a good way to go at it, best of luck!


    Liked by 1 person

    1. First drafts are what are difficult for me. I honestly like the editing process. If I’ve managed to write a “good” story, I can get all caught up in the edit to make it better, brighter, brilliant.

      Like you, I find my best work is done before ten in the morning usually. I wish it wasn’t that way but I can’t change me.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Defeat does indeed teach us much in life. I’ve totally backed away from the idea of writing a novel for a while. It’s just not for me at this point. However, rather than feel defeated, I am certainly capable of writing articles and short stories for publication consideration.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had dental surgery this last Monday. While I was waiting for my mouth to numb up, I was looking at a magazine, Oprah’s O. This may be a good place for you to submit. Her magazine isn’t just for Afro-Americans and the topics she covers in her magazine seems extremely relevant. Just a thought, Jeri. You can always through this idea in the nearest river.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s a great idea, and I have read O from time to time. I’ve currently been researching various magazines and making a spreadsheet of where I can start submitting to. The Boise Chapter of the NFAA (Nonfiction Authors Association) has been extremely helpful in giving me better focus.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I think as long as “failure” leads you to reconsider your effort or consider new things, the word belongs in quotes. You’re just rooting out the stuff that doesn’t work. I have had tons of things that did not go according to plan, but I don’t think I’ve had any failures recently. I don’t devote a lot of time to writing, and I’m not trying to write a longer work, so I have to draw from other experience. You might want to take anything I say with a grain of salt, but it still seems to me that you’re wrestling a process into submission and you’re trying to make it bend to your needs – I think that’s a good thing.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I extrapolate from other “creative” and pseudo creative activities. I can’t tell you how many books and articles I’ve read on “The Proper” way to cut a dovetail. Pffft. I also can’t tell you how many times I’ve failed to accomplish a goal, but ended up with a good/better result.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Nice to hear you made some progress on writing, Glynis. Don’t be too hard on yourself. As writers we can always improve on the next draft. Failures might not necessarily failures, just a stepping stone to the next phase. You never know, prattling writing might lead to a good idea 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re probably right about the times I write gibberish. However, I’m in this mode where I’m “on a mission” sort a speak, trying to get that rough draft done so I can get to the editing, tearing it apart, and putting it back together again.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I go with my heart and inclination, and each of my book have been a bit different in approach. What works for you becomes your strength. I find it interesting to read about about your process though I may not adopt it for myself. I don’t mean that I like to read about someone else’s struggles but about their victory as they find their way to success. And you are finding your way to success as a writer – a good thing.
    I’m writing about a similar struggle, to be posted on my blog soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I look forward to reading this post you’re working on. Now that I’m not singling myself out, I’ll be looking for ways to keep the train moving up the mountain.

      BTW, I will reply to you as soon as I figure out exactly what I want to say. 😛

      Liked by 1 person

  7. You are clearly a writer because you’ve exercised your inner neologist and created a new word: Concededly. I get it.

    However long this book takes you, it won’t beat one of the two I’m working on. It’s a 20+ year labor of love. I think a couple of years, I’ll launch it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry to differ, Jacqui, but before I used the word, concededly, I looked it up. I found it at Dictionary.Com. I knew I had heard it somewhere before, but I wasn’t sure if it was an actual word, and wasn’t at all sure about the meaning.

      I hope my WiP doesn’t take any 20 years. I’m not sure if I’ll be living that long. At the same time, I don’t dare try to guess how long it will take me to get through this rough draft phase. I do know that once I get this part done, and don’t mistakenly throw it away, I’ll have some idea of an end date. 😉


  8. I appreciate the openness and vulnerability with which you explore your writing processes and problems. I, too, much prefer editing and revising to first drafts, but first drafts must be done, so I struggle through them, knowing I’ll soon be able to rework and polish.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And here I thought I was the only one who didn’t like the first draft. It seems so many writers are ecstatic during that draft and dread the thought of revision and editing. They speak of just wanting to file the manuscript away so they can start another first draft. I know a writer is advised to wait on the rewrites to gain perspective. So be it, I prefer to just work with character sketches and setting summaries while I’m wait out the time.

      Liked by 1 person

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