On Failure

Writing is a process that creates (sometimes) an organized, publishable document that says something you want to say. Sometimes itʻs just a letter to yourself or someone you love. Sometimes itʻs a beginning of something, sometimes itʻs a blank page youʻve committed to staring at for long enough to build a thought, a hope, a frustration, an idea. (That blank page is your backburner, by the way, and your commitment to that page is one of the bravest steps any writer, any level of skill makes!)

If this is so, and I know it is, how can we fail? We cannot, unless we stop committing to the blank page, to the backburner where everything gets bubbled up and blended together! And even when we sometimes neglect to meditate on that blank page, I hesitate to call that a failure. We need to live (and work and rest and play and read!), after all, in order to write.

So, when we set our goals, letʻs be gentle. And if we donʻt meet the goal, look at the goal and our lives — was the goal realistic? If it was, what got in the way? Is the goal important to us — if it isnʻt, let it go! (No harm, no foul….) But if it is, how do we make room for that writing project in our daily, weekly, monthly lives? How do we build a habit that keeps us returning to the blank page? Learning what keeps us away, and why we return, is a valuable lesson — not a failure!

This is the key: for those of us who are called to write, itʻs about choosing to return to the writing practice, even when life takes us away from a specific goal for a time. As writers, we can develop the will, the joy, the hope of returning to that page, where we can speak — well, whatever we please, in effect, what pleases us, drives us, moves us into that creative space of discovery and sharing.

The next time you “fail” at a writing goal, take a deep breath and assess the goal. Then ask yourself, “What will it take to return me to that blank page?” The answer is usually simpler than you think, if you can avoid labeling yourself a “failure.”

See you at the writing group. Write on, women!

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