09 May

Mindful Writing: Accepting Failure

Posted in Mindful Writing, Process, Writing

We all have goals and high hopes that things will turn out a certain way.  As writers, we hope to see our work in print someday.  We hope for agents, publishers, reviewers, and readers to love our book.  We wish for a lot of things, but it doesn’t always turn out the way we’d like.  Sometimes our projects flop, people don’t like our work or we ourselves don’t follow-through on our goals.  Sometimes we… fail.

So how do we deal with these moments of hurt and disappointment.  How do we bounce back from from failure?  Two words: Mindful Writing.  Today, take out your notebook and take a few moments to take stock of the parts of your writing life where you feel like you have failed.  You can do this as a guided exercise, following the five steps below, or you can just read through and do the exercise later.  Here’s how:

5 Steps for Accepting Failure

1. Notice the disappointments.  Look at your writing life and write down goals you’ve failed to meet or places where things have not turned out the way you would have liked (i.e. rejections and other disappointments).

2. Recognize the things that are outside your control.  While some things may be outside your control–you can’t control who likes your work and who doesn’t–other things you may be able to control after all.  The key is figuring out which things are things you can control and which are not.

3. Take responsibility.  Look at the things you can control and take responsibility for areas where you failed to meet your goals or contributed to the disappointment in some way.

4. Say how you will not let it happen again.  Make a list of ways in which you will not let this disappointment happen or this goal be missed again.  Come up with real strategies to help you avoid this same failure in the future.

5. Let it go.  Don’t ruminate on the disappointment, but move forward towards your goal.  These things happen so just acknowledge, accept and move on.

On a personal note, for me the biggest failure I’ve had to deal with lately was working on my WIP and making my self-imposed deadlines.  I set some rather unrealistic deadlines and it took missing two such deadlines to realize that this method of self-motivation was not working.  At first, I beat myself up for missing the deadlines, but then I realized that I need to set more realistic goals.  But I would not have made this important discovery had it not been for mindful writing.

Have you faced disappointments in your writing?  How have you managed to bounce back?


Comments on this post

  1. The Red Angel says:

    This is a great post…sometimes I feel like I am in denial about all the things I haven't been able to get done, and then I procrastinate even more by not thinking about those unfinished tasks.

    Thanks for helping me realize the first step towards success (finally!) is to admit and ACCEPT failures.



    1. Mohamed Mughal says:

      I think the most powerful step is the last one: let it go and move on. It's powerful in writing and in life in general.

      1. Lindz Pagel says:

        Excellent post.
        Its always good to keep some perspective, not to take everything personally but recognize what you can do to improve.

        1. Kelly Garriott Waite says:

          Thanks for this post. Rather than beating ourselves up for failures, we can take a step back, gain some perspective, and move forward.

          1. Selena Wolff says:

            This is something that every working writer goes through at some point. Thanks for this inspiration to work through it and move on.

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