Failure. Hmmmm. Well, I recently entered two contests and wasn’t selected. I’ve had agents who didn’t want me, editors who didn’t want my book(s), and enough negative reviews to be christened an author. I’ve also had the illustrious pleasure of receiving a small handful of emails from Wikipedia Historians telling me why I’m wrong about some research. Failure indeed. I’ve had lots of it, and suspect plenty more lies on the horizon.
For writers, failure is a four-letter word. We fear it, we dread it, and we try to avoid it at all costs. But perhaps we give it too much power. Maybe it’s best to run straight at it, helmet on. Learning how to cope with “failure” comes through loads of practice (sadly), but it also comes through two important skills a writer needs to survive:
ACCEPTING WHEN YOUR CRAFT NEEDS WORK This is really difficult sometimes because it involves listening to others who criticize your work, as well as learning to listen to your intuition. Our ego likes to make us feel that critical feedback is wrong, and that we just haven’t found the right audience yet. But in time, we learn to discern the difference between our ego and what our gut tells us. We learn to digest the feedback, and work on our problem areas one at a time. Finally, we learn to make good friends with humility.
Humility serves us well, not only making us kinder, more open-minded people, but it enables us to filter out the helpful advice embedded within the harsh feedback, negative reviews, or the ever-present “something to improve upon in our pages”.
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