On failure


Tomorrow I'll wrap up the month with some thoughts for those of you who reached your goal or who just got a significant amount of writing done. Today I want to take a minute to talk to those of you who think you failed.

I talked to a woman yesterday who participated in NaNoWriMo. She planned to capture stories she had told her children when they were younger. Goofy entertaining stories with a message. She got twelve thousand words is and stopped.

Not to go all rose-colored-glasses on you, but she captured twelve thousand words of stories that would otherwise be lost. She, her husband, and her kids relived some of that time when they would tell each other stories. She doesn't have anything fit to publish—but she's had a writing based success.

Those of you writing along with PragProWriMo had a goal as well. Even if you missed that goal, I can't see any possible way that this month was a failure.

Some of you have written in to say that although you didn't get a book out of the experience, you did solidify some ideas in your head and you have a better idea about a certain topic than you did before. 

Others have written in to say that book writing is not for them and that they've gained a lot of respect for authors. They are not marathoners but they now understand more what it takes to write a book.

There are plenty of people in between. Those of you who wrote three chapters but not four — you were successful. I've always graded on a curve. You pass too.

Many times the world's rewards are binary. You either completed something or you didn't. With something like trying to write a book, even if you didn't manage to get very far, you got farther than most and you know more about yourself than you did a month ago.

You can stop saying that you always wanted to write a book and attempt one of the other things you've always wanted to do.

On this week's "On the Media" they devoted the entire program to the state of the book industry. Guests lamented that too many books are being written and that it's easier than ever to write a book. I don't think so. It may be easier than ever to take a book that you've written and make it look pretty enough that someone might say "it's a real book" and buy it. The writing part doesn't seem any easier today than in the days I used to watch my dad write books in long hand on a legal pad.

Failure? I don't think so. Congratulations and thank you for participating.

This post originally appeared in the Pragmatic Life blog.