Do you ever have that dream where you get up in the morning and head to work or class, and when you get there, you realize you’re naked?
I used to have it all the time. The weirdest part is that once I realized I was naked in the middle of a classroom -- always on the day of an exam -- I always thought, “Well, I’ve got to deal with this now. I guess I’ll sit in the back.”
I could have thought, “I need to leave now! I can’t be here like this!” But I didn’t; I stuck it out and adapted to my extreme wardrobe snafu.
Being a writer, like any form of self-employment, is a game of trial and error. You’re bound to make mistakes along the way, but that doesn’t mean you need to leave the game. You just have to adapt and push through to the next step. Admit failure, take notes, and try something different.
Throughout my short career, I have failed a lot.
I have failed as a self-publisher.
I have failed as a blogger.
I have failed as a freelance writer.
I have failed as an editor.
I have failed as a copywriter.
I have failed as a journalist.
I’m still doing all of these, and now I’m doing them all better.
I value failure mostly because I love experimenting with new ideas. Failure is an inevitable byproduct of constant experimentation, so I’ve come to embrace it for the experiences I get to have and the awesome lessons I learn from every step.
Even though my first two books didn’t sell, I learned from publishing them how to format ebooks, and how to create an author page at Amazon and Goodreads.
Though I haven’t had skyrocketing success on my blog, I have learned completely unexpected lessons about what people like to read, what gets them engaged, and what they’ll totally ignore.
Though I floundered for my first year of freelancing, I learned what kind of work I love to do, what kind I hate, and what I can do well to make money without going crazy.
Though I haven’t made a career out of being an editor (as I once thought I would), I learned quickly from doing it a little bit that I love and excel at helping someone take a good idea to the next level.
Though I haven’t been able to stick long with any copywriting client -- for the queasy feeling of selling-out-ness that comes with many positions -- my writing has improved tremendously because of the lessons I learned about writing concise, engaging copy.
Though I haven’t (yet) found a comfortable income as a journalist, I learned through a few chance assignments that this is the style of writing that I am made to do -- something I never considered in a whole life of fantasizing about being a writer.
Don’t fear failure. Embrace it.
A fear of failure is a huge roadblock to trying new things, especially in your career, where your livelihood and reputation are concerned. But if you let that fear dictate your moves, you’ll never make progress toward your dreams.
In order to know what you want to do and what you do best, you have to try things. Don’t just settle for the first thing you discover. Embrace the weird ideas that strike you; experiment with unexpected desires. Try everything, fail, and get better at being the best, unique you.
About the Author
Dana Sitar (@danasitar) is a freelance journalist and indie author. She shares resources, tips, and tools for writers in search of a path through DIY Writing. She has been writing professionally since 2010, blogging unabashedly since 2011, and traveling perpetually since she discovered that one feature article could purchase enough gas for a cross-country road-trip.
If you're not sure what to try next, check out Dana's upcoming book, A Writer's Bucket List: 99 things to do for inspiration, education, and experience before your writing kicks the bucket. For a weekly nudge down your unique path, sign up for the DIY Writing Newsletter – you'll get access to the free ebooks and worksheets in the DIY Writing Toolkit when you do!