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Embracing Failure As Part of the Creative Process

Lately, I’ve been reading The Achievement Habit by Bernard Roth. One of the key principles that spoke to me in this book was the idea of the action bias. The action bias basically means that those who act instead of putting off action until “the time is right” tend to achieve more, even if there are many failures along the way.

It is better to start to do something and fail, than to do nothing…You do, you fail, and you learn…Don’t be afraid of failure. It is part of the price you pay for action..

For writers, failure is practically guaranteed. The very nature of writing requires one to take paths that may not pan out, to write sentences that will be cut, to write stories that won’t find a publisher or novels that may not find as many readers as we would like.

Any wise writer begins any project with the knowledge that revision will be part of the process. What is the expectation of revision if not an acceptance of the possibility — indeed the likelihood — of failure? To revise is to accept that your first draft (or your second or your third) was, at least in part, a failure. From that failure, however, you learn something that will help you proceed with your revision. With each failure, the book gets better.

Have you been putting off writing your novel, story, or memoir until “the time is right”? If so,I encourage you to take the leap, with the understanding that it’s perfectly okay to fail.

Need inspiration? Take the free 10 Days of Beautiful Failure Challenge. You’ll receive an email each morning with a writing prompt or advice to help you take action in your writing life.

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Michelle Richmond is the New York Times bestelling author of four novels, including The Year of Fog (read an excerpt on Medium) and Golden State (read an excerpt on Medium), and two award-winning story collections.