Is this failure?

Photo by Juan Marin on Unsplash

I met a writer recently. She just didn’t know she was even though she …

  • Reads voraciously and enthusiastically.
  • Has notebook upon notebook filled with ideas.
  • Collects names, storylines and inspiration for characters. 
  • Writes often, even if it’s just snippets, not yet attached to a whole.
  • Is generous and admiring of the authors she follows.

But she says she’s not a writer because she hasn’t actually finished anything. She just wants to write.

Beth feels like she’s failed already.

She hasn’t. She’s just failed to realise what stage she’s in: she’s a writer who’s not yet published. 

Right now, she’s building her writing practice through instinct.  

  • Observing what could be useful to her stories.
  • Organising everything where she can find it again.
  • Writing every day (ideas count as writing).
  • Reading widely to see what works and what doesn’t, to venture into worlds beyond her own experiences.

It’s a great start even though it doesn’t feel that way. When Beth is ready to write her book, she’ll have a great start with lots of material as well as the foundations for a strong and sustainable practice.

We are so judgmental of ourselves, aren’t we?

We fail to recognise that having time to gather – ideas, skills, courage – is vital to the creative process. 

We belittle ourselves because we haven’t produced anything yet. Or it wasn’t enough. Or wasn’t what we strived for. 

But we keep going and that’s what got us from there to here, and what will get us from here to even further along.

Let’s just try being a little kinder to ourselves along the way. 

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