Mmm… today I’m seeing some shudders amongst those not-quite-so-new novelists among you.
For very. Very. Good reason.
Because failing sucks.
And I’d be incredibly sympathetic except for a tiny little insignificant little truth that we vets know about and you don’t. Stop giggling vets. I’m going to spoil your fun and tell them.
Brace yourselves, kids, it’s a big one.
There is no such thing as a failed book.
You know those half finished works in progress hidden under your beds and in boxes and drawers? Nope. They’re not failures. Not even the terrible ones.
Okay new kids, you can stop gaping. It’s really true. Ask anyone who’ve been in the game for a while.
The reason for this is twofold:
Firstly, a failed book is only a failed book once you’ve given up on a story for ever. And I guarantee that you won’t. The reason why I know is because of the second reason why failed books don’t exist.
Every new project you start is a lesson in what works and what doesn’t. So yeah. Some of your old stories will have sucked. But never all of it. Maybe there’s an awesome character waiting to come to life. Or the basic premise was AMAZING but you didn’t have the chops to pull it off.
Guess what. You’re learning. Every time you take on a new story, you’re learning. And if you have an open mind to what critique partners have to say… If you pay attention to the lessons other writers learnt (blogs are brilliant sources of this sort of information, by the way)… Guess what. You will learn even faster.
And once you have the chops, you have three choices. You can use everything you’ve learnt up to this point and write something completely different. Or you can go back to one of the previously imagined failed manuscripts. There, you can either rewrite the whole thing using your mad new writing skills, or you can recycle everything you can use and start something better with it.
So I’m asking you nicely. Please please stop being afraid of failing. Try being excited about learning instead. And if you have to give up on a project, don’t get rid of it. Don’t forget about it. Because something inside might just be what gives you a bestseller idea.
How have you used knowledge gained in “failed” writing projects?