Why Failure Can Help You Become a Better Writer – Kate Johnston

Why Failure Can Help You Become a Better Writer

Reblog Share

Today’s article is a share from author/blogger/editor and friend Kate Johnston. Kate is talking about the topic of failure and rejection writers face and how they lead to our successes.


Why Failure Can Help You Become a Better Writer

Mental preparedness, I think, is the most critical tool a writer needs. More than ability or talent or free time. Most new writers are intimidated, fearful, and they don’t think they’re up to the task. They’re afraid of failure. And they allow that fear of failure to stop them on their writing quests.


Failure means you tried

Writers who are new to the craft generally don’t fully understand what it takes to be a writer. What they have to do to make a story work. How much time they have to invest.

When they are faced with the truth of exactly what they’re in for, many writers give up.

They give up before they can actually fail.

Let’s read that again: they give up before they can actually fail.

Imagine the fear, disappointment, frustration, and discouragement as an enormous, thick, noxious cloud of smoke that is hovering in your way, smack-dab in the middle of your path. You have two options: push your way through or give up.

If you give up, that is the end of your writing journey. You stopped when things got too hard.

If you push through, and deal with fear, disappointment, frustration, and discouragement, you will come out to the other side. Where the air is clearer, friendlier, and smells a lot better.

Pushing through, facing and dealing with the crappy stuff, may not earn you the big win or the success you dreamed about. But it does give you something you need.


Failure will prepare you for the next big obstacle

The worst mistake any writer can make is to think this gig will be easy or that their version of success is the only way to be successful. Thoughts like I should have been done by now. Why am I still having trouble with structure? will lead you down a dangerous landslide of limiting beliefs.

Writers who tumble down this slope are usually those who started this journey because they’d been inspired by a great book that they’ve read, or by a beloved author. They’re basing their desire on a finished, polished product. They don’t see the years and years of hard work and previous failures that led to that particular success. Years of dedication to learning the craft of writing.

Unless you have studied writing or been trained/educated as a writer, and you understand how the industry works, and you’re highly self-disciplined, then it is next to impossible to pump out a great book in a few months that will end up on the bestseller’s lists. An accomplishment like that takes years of experience and practice. And a little magic.

(I’ll pause here to excuse those rare, gifted writers who actually emerged from the womb with pen in hand.)

Even if you hit a win on your first try, and you’re not rare & gifted, what do you think is going to happen on your next try? Continue reading . . .


Source: Why Failure Can Help You Become a Better Writer – Kate Johnston

47 thoughts on “Why Failure Can Help You Become a Better Writer – Kate Johnston

    1. Hard to even imagine you a failure. But I know sometimes are best attempts can lead to failure and as long as we learn something from it and keep going that eventually leads to success. 🙂 xx


      1. I have to do almost everything at least twice because the first time is a train wreck. Ha ha. I make a lot of extra work for myself too, which can be annoying. But I’ve learned to go with the flow. 🙂


  1. This reminds me os Emily Dickinson’s poem… “Success is counted sweetest
    By those who ne’er succeed….” Failure explains to us the meaning of success and why not to lose hope 🙂 Thanks for sharing this post Deb.


  2. Great share, Deb. It’s so true that new writers don’t see the years of toiling behind a single book release. Stephen King wrote something like nine novels before getting published for the first time. Wow, something to think on. Thanks for sharing this topic, Kate. Failure isn’t something we want to discuss very often but always relevant.


    1. Thanks Lis. We can all relate I’m sure, but I found it encouraging that Kate validates what so many of us experience. And yes, King is often used as a great example for rejection letters – especially his ‘Carrie’ story. We have much to learn from our failures. 🙂 x


  3. Thank you for sharing my post, Debby! What a sweet surprise. We must stay as encouraged and motivated as possible, so anytime we can twist negativities around, we’re better off! 🙂


  4. Failure is a great teacher. I know this, and still I have been dragging my feet for way too long about getting serious about writing. Things are coming together though and I have an article coming out in a magazine next month, so yay! As a teacher, it would be frustrating when parents would complain and ask why their child had a C or a D, and I would be like, “That is what they are earning.” Everyone just wants easy A’s and B’s without the effort and the occasional failure needed to truly learn.


    1. Well said Jeri. And it seems you and I are both dragging our feet. Sometimes that happens when illness takes precedence and turns life around. I know what you’ve been through and I’m living it daily with my husband’s poor health. We just need to find the inspiration to saddle up. And congrats on the magazine article! That’s what I need to start doing too. 🙂


  5. Again another great post you shared, Debbie. An insightful write from Kate. Agree with her that failure isn’t always bad and it’s a sign that we have tried. As I mentioned on her blog, if we get up and continue writing, we are just continuing on and on to the next step, picking up ourselves after we’ve fallen. Personally writing my first book has been a stop-start process but it’s nothing to be ashamed about – I am still going with it 🙂


    1. Good for you Mabel. It’s easy for writers to get discouraged with their work that’s why I thought Kate’s post was encouraging and inspirational. Glad you visited her page. 🙂 xx


      1. So easy to get discouraged but never easy to start again. But if we love writing enough, we will always find a way. Thanks for sharing such insightful posts, Debbie ❤


  6. Hi Debby,
    It’s better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all! Great post by your guest author.
    I don’t see a Press This button. It sounds like if my readers want to Press my post, they need the tool you emailed me about. I do nothing. Is that right?


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