Storms can take many forms; there are the storms outside which loosen your house tiles, play havoc with your flower pots, fling your recycling bins down the street, flood parts of your home and drench everything in sight. There are the storms in your day to day life which disrupt relationships, friendships, careers and life dreams and there are storms in your finances which shake the foundations of your bank balance. I am not going to mention the pandemic storm we are all living through right now, just going to keep praying it passes soon.
There are also storms in your writing life; draft novels which still don’t work after the eighth draft, receiving too many stinging rejections, wanting to hide under the bed when your beta readers don’t like what you’ve done with your rewrite or when your bout of Writer’s Block takes such a hold of you quitting writing books seems like your only option.
I have done all sorts of things with writing failure; experienced it, avoided it, ignored it, buried it deep inside of me, tweeted about it, written blog posts about it, moaned about it, cried about it, drank too much wine whilst thinking about it, got down about it, laughed about it, had sleepless nights about it, written lengthy emails to writing friends about it and filled out hundreds of diary pages on it Recently I have started to see writing failure in a new way. I view it as a storm and guess what – it doesn’t sting anymore.
Here’s my thinking:
Storms are disruptive and chaotic, they bring havoc and turn lives upside down, however in nature they are in fact a blessing. They do all sorts of good things; create rainfall, clear the air, remove pollution, release energy, cool the earth and clear the way for new growth.
Storms in our writing life can also be seen as blessings.
- They create new writing friendships. Some of my best creative friendships have started with a supportive blog comment or an encouraging tweet post a writing failure. The online writing community will give you a reassuring and warm virtual hug if you reach out and share your suffering.
- They clear the path for new characters and stories. I have created some great new characters, whilst trying to clear up the literary mess, after a writing failure. The universe feels bad for your story not working out and sends you a gift, in my case a wild and reckless main character who would bring me so much joy that I would end up forgetting all about my creative pain.
- Release energy inside of you which takes you in a new direction. Sometimes writing failures have pointed me in a new and interesting direction. I love this because my ‘I know best’ writing mindset would have prevented me from pursuing new directions.
- In the devastation they leave you with new knowledge. I have acquired new knowledge about writing with each failure. The universe knows I struggle to read writing craft books and take the advice of others, so it makes me learn new stuff through failure. Sigh The universe is so thoughtful.
- Hide treasure for you in the chaos. Whilst sifting through the wreckage of shelved stories I have discovered new story ideas, buried deep. Never delete or throw anything away when it comes to writing.
- Deepen your roots. I have learnt that you can’t buy perserverance and resilence on Amazon. It’s something you have to cultivate yourself. Overcoming writing failures will send your roots deeper into the creative earth so when the next storm comes you are stronger.
- The chance to to build again. We are so lucky as we get the chance to rewrite, modify and adjust our stories. Can you imagine if we were only allowed one attempt?
- A beautiful rainbow. You have to endure the storm to get this.
You only have to look at some great life quotes about storms to see where I am going with this idea:
‘When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what storms are all about.’ Haruki Murakami.
‘When all seems to be against you, remember a ship sometimes has to sail against the current, not with it.’ Matshona Dhilwayo.
‘Love your storms, they bring more than rain, they bring sunshine.’ Matshona Dhilwayo.
See your writing failures differently, writers. Your writing storm might not have come to cause you upset, it might have come to clear the path.
See you next week 🙂