Dissecting A Writing Failure

Skull by Sergey Demushkin from the Noun Project

When I fail, I usually just move on and don’t think too much about it.

I’m not sure how that helps.

That’s why I’ve decided to dissect a recent failure, an autopsy of sorts. In September, I tried to launch this book via a crowdsourcing platform (I’ve already written some about it here).

But I wanted to answer some more specific questions. And to think about not just why it failed, but what I can learn from it.

I pulled the following questions from Rob Bell’s book, How To Be Here.

“Whenever you create anything, you take a risk…Failure is simply another opportunity to learn” — Rob Bell
  1. Why did I do that?

Why did I try and launch a book? It was a book about how to fail at writing, kind of anti-advice for writing. I thought it was counter-intuitive. I thought it was interesting. Someone said it would be a good idea to try it, and I want to try saying yes more than no. This felt like an opportunity to do that.

2. What have I learned?

There’s a sweet spot for ideas. Sometimes they are too early. Sometimes they are too late. This is impossible to know. I figured with how small my platform was, and how this was a departure from some of my past books and writing, that it would be a stretch. And it was.

I also don’t feel like it was my strongest idea at a point where some of my other projects had stalled and needed my attention more. Oh well, let’s keep going.

I didn’t feel 100 percent asking people to support it, which breaks all kinds of rules I’ve learned about. And even some of my long-time readers called me out on it.

3. How will I do it differently in the future?

Go after the best idea you have right now. This wasn’t my best idea at the time and I let the pursuit of it derail me a bit in my quest to get some other stuff out there. Writing and books that I’m more proud of, like this one.

The truth is we never know how the ideas are going to turn out and what we have until it’s finished. The response may be nothing, it may be overwhelming. Even if I recalibrate everything, my next project may turn out the same.

We’ll see.


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I’m Josh Spilker and I blog about the creative process at Create, Make, Write. For more like this, sign up for my newsletter here.