BLOG CHAIN–What’s the best mistake you’ve ever made?

M’kay, y’all ready? I get to start of the blog chain this time. *cracks knuckles*

My question: Regarding your writing career, what’s the best mistake you’ve ever made and why?

This question was inspired by a Yahoo article I came across a couple weeks ago, title Five Mistakes Everyone Should Make. (FYI: I’m not a big follower of news and Yahoo articles as such, but the caption totally piqued my curiosity.) The five mistakes are:

  1. Totally embarrass yourself–done, done, and DONE! (This will be an ongoing adventure for me, let me tell you!)
  2. Ruffle people’s feathers–in other words, don’t be afraid to voice your opinion (though I’d recommend finding the most tactful way possible of doing that, just sayin’).
  3. Follow trends blindly–um, yeah, so I’m gonna confess I’m not so much into this one…
  4. Be willing to fail–doing something you love–ding, ding, ding! We have a winner here, folks!
  5. Carelessly put yourself at risk–again, not something I’d ascribe to wholeheartedly, but you do have to take some risks to break outside your comfort zone, no?

Alrighty, so, getting back to number 4. When I read this, I totally thought about my writerly life. I never expected the journey to have the extreme highs and lows that it does. I never expected to take it this far. I never expected to spend like 99.9% of my free time writing or obsessing about writing. I never expected to meet such wonderful, supportive, knowledgeable, and smart people–who have experienced THE SAME HIGHS AND LOWS AS ME! (It is comforting to feel understood, am I right?)

The idea of willingness to fail at something you love is a tough one to swallow. I wanna be successful. I wanna make millions (*snort* I can’t believe I just said that, cuz $ isn’t a high priority to me, at least consciously, but still, who doesn’t dream of making it big?). More importantly, I want to be proud of completing something that is wholly creative and respected. I wanna hold my book(s) in my hands. I want to share them with the world.

I’m not saying anything y’all haven’t thought, right?

It’s becoming strikingly clear to me that in order to do this, I need to fall down flat on my face–several times, in fact–and learn from what I’ve done wrong. It’s the mistakes in life that help us figure out how to improve ourselves. Flubbing something up makes us stop, stare at it, and find a better solution.

There’s another aspect of this idea. I put a TON of pressure on myself to be successful, perfect, and fantabulous. Problem is, that pressure comes from a fear of failure. It’s only when I let go of that fear and become willing to fail and make mistakes (for the sake of learning and improving myself) that I can face my work with a sense of freedom and enjoyment.

And that, my friends, is the answer to my best writerly mistake–being willing to fail at something I love.

I’m working on this mistake with every revision, with every new project, with every opportunity to critique/beta someone’s work.

I pick myself up by the proverbial bootstraps every time I fail. Every. Time.

My work gets stronger. I take feedback better. I grow. I learn.

I accept failure as means to success.

What say you, dear friends? How do you approach mistakes?

Check out the insightful Michelle H’s post tomorrow for her answer!

22 comments on “BLOG CHAIN–What’s the best mistake you’ve ever made?

  1. Kat says:

    Great topic! Great post! I can’t wait to see what others have to say.

  2. Great post! Yes, you can’t succeed with writing until you’ve made a few mistakes first.

  3. Christine Fonseca says:

    LOVE LOVE LOVE this topic! So excited to post on it…I should probably check when that is! HA!

  4. Lynn Rush says:

    Oh man. I’ve been looking back on my writing journey lately. It started in May 2008 . . . And boy have I fallen flat on my face, quite a few times.
    It started with querying agents before I knew what heck I was doing. Then asking, “Oh, can I resubmit, I’ve re-written it” **blush**

    I look back on that mistake and smile, both with embarrassment and with pride. embarrassment because–well, you know why, you just need to wait to submit until the book is as good as it can get, been hashed by crit partners, etc.

    But pride? Well, I survived it. it made me tougher. I realized I’m a strong person to survive that. I grew thick-thick skin because of it and now I can easily survive the harshest critiques of my work while I’m putting it through the critique process without wanting to give up.

    Great topic.

    • lbdiamond says:

      Thanks for sharing, Lynn! It is one heck of a journey, isn’t it? The highs and lows are so extreme sometimes. But in the end, it makes you stronger. Yeah!

      • Lynn Rush says:

        Totally. And, I’ve been able to help some other writers not make that mistake by sharing mine with them. So, it all works out in the end.

  5. vtremp says:

    Thanks for the reminder, Laura! I would add that failing at something you love and picking yourself up, dusting yourself off, and getting right back to it, shows you have the persistence and commitment to achieve your dream. If we’re not committed to it, why should anyone else?


  6. I HATE failure, but it cannot be totally avoided, by anyone, certainly not by me. Without it, I’d be, uh, doing nothing, you know, to be safe, and learning nothing. I’d be safe, maybe, but very bored. I love your post! What’s the best mistake I’ve ever made? I’ve never thought of them as being good, better, or best but rather as being bad, worse, or worst! The NEXT one always seems to reduce the horror of the former, thank you very much, by taking my mind off of it. I have learned to accept my mistakes and focus on my successes. We have those, too, probably, at least in part, resulting from learning through our failures.

  7. Shannon says:

    Awesome question, Laura. *putting on the thinking cap*

  8. I failed by following a trend – young adult – rather than my manuscript’s actual genre. I landed a publisher that way. Guess some mistakes are okay to make, huh?

  9. Michelle H. says:

    Great question! Failing but realizing this will lead to something so much better, it can only make a person stronger.

  10. Oh wow, this is gonna be a toughie. Great answer though. Good thing I have a little time to think about what to say.

  11. This is a great topic. I can’t wait to answer and see everyone else’s answers. 🙂

  12. This is a great topic and an AMAZING post. My won’t be able to compete. I can completely relate too. Wanting perfection, being afraid to fail. So hear you. Obsessing about writing, totally with you! Thank you for writing what I’m feeling.

  13. cole gibsen says:

    Eek! This is a tough one! But I loved your answer. So well put.

  14. You have to fail in order to figure out how to improve. It all comes back to that classic mantra: if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. Great topic, Laura!

  15. ali says:

    I couldn’t agree more. What an interesting concept–that of making mistakes that work to our benefit. Reminds me of a poem by anonymous called Risk. It essentially plays off the idea that true happiness, growth, love–whatever–can only come to us if we put ourselves out there. Which means risking failure, loss, sadness, pain. It’s that whole polar opposites thing–we have to experience that pain to truly appreciate the joy when it comes.

    Thanks for making me think!

  16. […] and writing, When to quit, writing 0 Welcome to another round for my Blog Chain. This time, Laura  brings us a question: Regarding your writing career, what’s the best mistake you’ve ever made […]

  17. […] them because I’ve been slacking a bit on this blog). This round’s topic was created by Laura. She […]

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