The first post I wrote about this subject was mostly about what writers hear as they journey through their path to becoming published. This post will be about how you can actually fail upward. I’m not sure we can actually call it a failure, as long as you learn something.
Over the past two years I’ve sent out short stories, worked on novels, sent out comic scripts, all in hopes of getting my work published. A few times those things have worked out beautifully, but more often than not I’ve either gotten “This wasn’t quite what we were looking for.” or no response at all. But most of the time? I learned something about submitting, something about writing, or just something about myself in the process.
Don’t get me wrong. I did not receive those rejects with a spring in my step and a smile on my face. Rejection always hurts, but if I don’t keep trying and working at it, I’ll never reach my goals.
Speaking of goals, my dear friend Yen wrote an really great post about goals and resolutions over on Virtuosity11.11. She specifically talks about how to break goals down so that they are easier to accomplish and she’s actually the person who helped me figure out how to make some of my resolutions measurable.
Once you have a goal in mind, failure doesn’t quite sting as strongly, because you can remind yourself that everything you do is in service of that goal. Goals help you plan for the future and figure out steps toward what you want.
For example, one of my goals this year is to submit at least two short stories for publication each month. I’ve had this goal in the past, but now, I approach goals on a yearly, monthly, weekly basis. I look at my month, at my deadlines and figure out when I need the first drafts, second drafts and final versions done of my stories.
Now, even after all this work and all the revisions, there’s still a rather good chance I won’t get every story published. The only way to get better at writing, is to continue to do it. So even if each story does not work out, I’m still practicing my craft, studying more about the art I love so dearly. There’s something to be said for sticking with it, even when it seems like nothing is going right.
None of the authors, screen writers or comic writers got where they are today because they took rejection to heart and never wrote again.
So fail. Fail a lot. But always try again.