Over the years I’ve tried many things; some were successful, others were disasters. But none were a waste of my time. As writers, we all want our writing to be beautiful and our books or other writing projects to be a success. But over time, some things are going to fail – and I think it’s important to realize that those “failures” are really successes in disguise because each is a valuable experience. Plus, you’ll never find the success you dream of unless you’re willing to take risks – and that’s what this post is all about.
Years ago I was an avid Mah Jong player. The mother of one of my friends used to live in Singapore and when she came back to the States she brought us all Mah Jong sets and taught us how to play Singapore style. Because the audience for Singapore-style Mah Jong was so huge (ha!) I wrote and published a newsletter titled The Wriggly Snake – the name based on one of the “fancy hands” of the game. I think I had four or five readers. Fun to write, but a commercial flop. Crash and burn.
Later, I spent a great deal of time (at least when the skies were clear) doing solar and lunar astronomy. I had the brilliant idea of launching another newsletter based on what is known as deep sky astronomy. That means the stuff that’s WAY out there – galaxies, clusters, double stars – all the cool stuff. What didn’t occur to me at the time was that I had absolutely no experience in deep sky astronomy; my passion was lunar and solar. How successful do you think that venture was? Crash and burn.
More recently, I took a month off of my client work to attempt to write a mystery novella. Two weeks into the project I realized I was working on the wrong book. And, I realized I was pretty horrible at fiction. Crash and burn? At first glance, yes. But in retrospect, not really.
In fact, none of my previous crash and burns (and there were many) were mistakes. True, they didn’t turn out the way I wanted them to, but through them all I became a better writer and a better marketer. And, if I hadn’t tried so many different things, I’d never have been able to focus on the parts and parcels of projects that I really love – and that I do well.
So, my writing friends, don’t be afraid to crash and burn. It may look painful – and in fact on some days it may be painful – but I promise you this – you’ll learn something so valuable you’ll be able to look back and say ‘that wasn’t so bad’.