When Failure Means Progress

When I started writing every day at the beginning of this year, I did so with the sole intention of simply writing anything at all. I didn’t have topics or burning passions lined up to riff on. My pieces to date have been written on the spur of a moment, often fueled by a passing thought captured at the exact moment I sat down to write. For such ill planning, I’m pleased with some of the things I’ve written.

Recently I’ve been less inspired to sit and write at length when I get home at night, which is my usual time for daily writing. Or rather, I’ve been less inspired to sit and write something quickly on a somewhat random topic. Or a short piece of fiction where I never revisit the characters, never get to turn them into breathing, emotional beings. I’m currently taking a writing class and learning a lot, but increasingly I’ve found it difficult to focus on practicing what I’ve learned with the self-imposed obligation of writing something coherent, that stands on its own, each night.

It’s with this in mind that I’m grappling with ways that failure can mean progress. Insofar as I’ve written nearly every day so far this year, I’ve learned more about writing and about myself. Signing up for a writing class was another way of progressing the goal I set for myself, so there is irony in the fact that the class itself is impeding that goal, to an extent. If I slip on my goal of writing each day in the pursuit of creating better writing overall, is that not success, veiled by failure?

From here on, I will be writing every day, but posting what I write with slightly less regularity. I see this as the next phase of the same experiment. Ideally, lessening my own expectation will allow me to write better. And if it doesn’t, I’ll reevaluate again.