How Failures and Excuses Can Lead To Success

Failures and excuses can sometimes, when treated right, breed success, and the taste of victory can be sweet. I’ve had a long list of failures in my writing career. Just this year, I’ve once again failed to finish my mystery novel. I signed up for National Novel Writing Month (even bought the t-shirt!), but failed to come out of it with a finished rough draft. I’ve submitted queries to magazines this fall that have all been rejected. I haven’t updated this blog as regularly as I’d like. Failure on these fronts can be common in many writing careers, but it doesn’t have to mean you’re not meant to write.

I have my excuses too. I work full-time, so in my off-time I want to spend time with my family and writing takes away some of that time. Some of my queries were general and perhaps were aimed at the wrong markets. Or maybe I aimed too high at national magazines, when I need to get more regional clips under my belt to make a better impression. Not enough time or the right inspiration were common excuses for failing to write at all.

The key to turning failures and excuses into success is to reframe your experiences. In my perpetual pursuit of a finished novel this year, I have outlined and reoutlined the plot, tightening weaknesses and developing characters in a way that will save revision time as I get the actual chapters written. I’ve even drafted the first two chapters. So I’ve made more progress this year than in previous years. I’ve rethought the whole project and now have something I can work with in my quest in the new year to flesh it out into a draft.

In my query rejections, I’ve learned that I need to do more thorough research into what freelance content a magazine accepts and how my experiences fit into those niches. This way I can target my queries more precisely and at least start getting some “nice idea, but not for us” rejections, rather than silence.

Reframing excuses can mean taking a good, hard look at your daily life. I recently tracked my time and found that I have about three hours most days that I could spend writing that wouldn’t take much time away from my family. That just blows that excuse right out of the water. The rest of my excuses are fear-based (fear of failure, rejection, etc), and I’ve learned through my job that I can write for publication. Now I need to take that experience and do it for a different medium.

Failures and excuses can hold you back from achieving your potential as a writer if you let them. But reframing those failures as learning experiences, and excuses as ways your mind is trying to trick you into giving up, you can learn to face your writing fears and become successful.

About 15 years ago, I had a steady freelance writing career that was generating some good side money for my family. I used the excuse of moving to a small town to give up on my dream. Now I’ve moved twice since and have learned that its not about location, it’s about perseverance. I have all the tools I need. Now it’s time to turn failures and excuses into successes.

What’s holding you back, in writing, or any area of your life? How can you reframe your failures and excuses so that you can overcome your fears and achieve success? Share some of your experiences in the comments below.


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