Sunday, February 23, 2014

Experiencing Writing Failure? Milk It For All It's Worth.

Writing failure got you down? No matter how hard you try, you can't sell any books? You're depressed. Thinking of quitting. Getting a real job. (You must be really depressed if you're that low!)

Well, I'll have to say to you is, 'You're in a good place.'

Don't fight your failure. It's making you a better writer. Deepening you as an artist. How do you think the great writers became great? By being happy? By succeeding? Of course not. They became great by being pulverized by failure, unacknowledged and passed by, while crappy writers all around them flourished.

So do you want to be a crappy writer or a great writer?

I'm a golfer. (Don't hold it against me.) I have been so unbelievably frustrated trying to play that game. I've worked so hard at it and have for forty years done just a slice better than stinking! But you know what I tell myself when I'm dragging my weary bones off the course, nearly gagging on the frustration and depression? I tell myself, This is making me a better writer.

Failure is your steeping stone to success. Embrace it. If you do. If you outlast it. You will wear it out and succeed.

Catherine Ponder, a writer who has experienced tremendous failure herself, writes in her book The Dynamic Laws of Prosperity:

By refusing to give up or give in to failure, failure is finally worn out by your persistence and gives up its power to success.

Don't dabble with failure. Dig into it. Dig into it and don't let go until one day you reach the absolute bottom.

I have a paper weight on my desk with a quote from Albert Einstein:

In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity.

And Einstein also said:

It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer.

So hang tough! Stay with that failure of yours till you wear it out, and it turns into success.

The phenomenal novelist Iris Murdoch wrote:

A problem is a star; an unsolvable problem is a sun.

Your problem is no problem. It's your ticket to success.


  1. Gregg,
    Thank you SO much for writing this encouraging article. I NEEDED to hear it! You are an amazing author and you sincerely inspired me. Your talent and incredible humility make you even MORE appealing. Respect.
    Sissy Beck Mosley

  2. I can't exactly say I have writing failure- my books are selling all right. But I can say I have great difficulties when it comes to writing outside one of my comfort zone genres. Currently I'm tackling an historical romance (WW II era) and the research is about to do my poor brain in. I've been struggling with just about every chapter. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad if I weren't such a stickler for adding realistic details, but I feel that makes the overall book a richer reading experience. Once it's done, this book may be a success, or it may be a failure. But the only way to know is to finish it and put it out there for the masses.

    Having published 10 novels, I know that you can't judge your entire writing career by just one novel, or just one screenplay. You have to keep at it. Enlist friends to beta read and tell you what they think. Sometimes you're not going to want to hear what they have to say, but in the long run, it will make you a better writer. And experiment with different genres. Figure out where your niche is and exploit it.

    Everyone has a book inside of them. It just takes time, patience, and perseverance to bring it out. If you never take that step, you'll never know that you might have been the next Hugh Howey.

    There are fantastic resources out there on the internet for writers. Don't be afraid to find them. Persistence pays off!

    Great thought-provoking post.

    1. Thanks K. Great comment. I'm sure the painstaking accuracy of your historical romance will pay off. People notice.

  3. Thank you so much. I needed this article today. :)

    1. Thank you, Laura. Really needed your comment today!

  4. I have written my book..,my matter is ready, can I really get it published without spending through my nose .. I find charges for editing are too high..

  5. Yes, you can get your book published without spending through your nose. There are so many options nowadays. It may take a little bit of searching on your part to find the best one, but you can do it. Here is a good article on how to go about finding a good freelance editor:

    And here are a couple of forums (filled with writers who self publish) that you can ask questions at. Like, "Where can I find a really good really inexpensive book editor?"

    And at Kboards site you'll want to ask your question in the "Writers' Cafe" forum.

    And here is the Amazon site, where people with experience about self-publishing via Amazon are. It's called Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing.

    And don't forget you can always solicit writers or talented readers to edit your book, or join writers' groups where you can get a lot of good editing feedback.

    Lastly, there's a very good book on self-editing called "Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself into Print" by Renni Browne and Dave King. Granted, I don't know if your book is fiction or not, and this book pertains to fiction. Here is the Goodreads link (and the book is available for purchase many places):

  6. Brilliant and just the inspiration I needed today to keep me going. I've felt very much like giving up many times, and in fact, didn't write for three years because I thought I had failed so miserably at it, but I'm back at it and this time like Inigo Montoya, I will no fail. And like Einstein, I'm just going to stick with it longer. Thanks for the inspiration, Gregg!

  7. Thanks Inigo! Appreciate your comment! (I'm sure you'll do great!)

  8. I wish I had read this a few years ago before I attended a year long novel writing class. What you so eloquently state is exactly what happened. At some point during the process, my novel stopped being my novel and became an incoherent mess. Thankfully, I spent most of the time critiquing other writer's (why did I pay $750.00 to do that again?), so the damage to my book was only within the first few chapters, but it was profound at the time. My voice was emerging and, during the process, I lost it completely for a time. Turning a work-in-progress over to a bunch of newbies, who don't know any more than I do, is like inviting strangers to change the layout on the blueprints of my dream house with the added insult of paying for the privilege. It was a valuable learning experience. I follow the Stephen King model now: "Write with the door closed" and saving the rewrites for the beta readers. Maybe someone who knows his or her voice well or is highly confident won't fall prey to the drowning of their creativity in the editing process, but vulnerability is often inherent in the writer hungry for growth and improvement. This is a post every writer should read.

  9. Hey, glad you got through that ordeal relatively unscathed. I think everybody goes through something like that. Some unfortunately quit. Others somehow gut it out and get through it. It's a shame it has to be that way, but that's life. Thanks for the comment.

  10. Encouraging post. I love it. It's strange too, this post (and a few others) popped up right when I needed to hear these kinds of words.


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