Day 151 – 2,024 Words/Day Process Log – Learning to Fail

I used to believe that I wasn’t a perfectionist, I just wanted things to be “right.”

It served me well, in a way, in my day job career. I worked with funds and audits and detailed work. If I didn’t catch something I’d wind up seeing it in an audit a couple of years later when I would have to fix it.

I get my perfectionist tendencies honest.

So, learning that it is all right to make mistakes is taking a while to get used to. No. That’s not the right statement. I’m learning that I need to be in a place where I can make mistakes, where I can ask questions, and explore.

Gardening is helping me with this. A couple of days ago, I designated a sacrifice tomato plant. I’m currently growing 10 tomato plants so I figured I could try out a homemade pest spray. I worked the solution up (yea, for that Chemistry minor in undergrad), labeled it and even labeled the tomato plant in case I forgot. So far, it’s still alive and the pests aren’t. Success!

But I was willing to let it die in order to run my experiment. I had margin and I was willing to fail.

I think this is the first time in my life that I’m willing to legit fail at something.

I’m writing about this because I’m writing a book trilogy and while I’m perfectly fine drafting, the next step is to copyedit it then sending it off to a first reader. And I’m scared.

Fiction writing was one thing that I staked my identity on. It’s the reason why I chose the day job, It’s guided almost every major decision of my adult life even though it might not look like it.

The pressure of being a successful fiction writer was too much. That pressure coming from myself.

Dean Wesley Smith says a couple of things that I’m reminded of – Failure is an option and Dare to be bad. Coming from a former gifted kid, failure was not an option. Straight As, perfection, validation, being chosen were.

I mean people talk about learning a thousand ways that something didn’t work and it’s a cute saying, but did someone set up the experiment so that they could learn? I gotta say, the first book I wrote in this trilogy I didn’t cycle through. I did not intentionally set aside time to write notes about the character or correct the spelling. It’s the reason why it’s a mess.

The second book that I just finished, I learned and started making notes on the characters, their characteristics, their comments about the world, the way they interact with previously mentioned characters. I gave myself the first 30 minutes of my writing time to read over the previous day’s work and correct the spelling.

I didn’t get the computer to read it aloud, but with the third book that I’m working on, I think that will be best because I have a tendency to drop words. It also gets me into the groove of writing while taking down the anxiety. So. That’s another change.

This trilogy doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s not going to be a work of genius. What it will be, though, is done. And that’s something that I haven’t been able to accomplish before now.

And sending the book to a first reader will tell me something, too. Maybe they aren’t the first reader for me. If I need a certain tone from a reader, then that’s what I need. And that’s valid.

At the end of the day, the most important thing is to keep experimenting, keep doing the scary thing, keep looking toward new horizons. If I keep doing that, then there’s no way I won’t fail. That’s the cost of pushing boundaries. That’s the price.

And I think I’m all right with that because my identity is not tied up in being a fiction writer. It’s being the best version of myself. And I can’t get there without failing.

Keep moving forward. Keep getting better.

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Day 151

Words Written To Date/Word Goals To Be On Track/Yearly Goal

223,429/ 305,624/740,782

About Irette Y Patterson

Irette Y Patterson is a writer of fantasy, science fiction, and romance. She has been published in FIYAH, Strange Horizons, Translunar Travelers Lounge and on the website of The Saturday Evening Post. When not writing, you can find her digging around in her garden or catching the latest musical in the theater.
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