Tonight’s guest blog post, on the topic of motivation, is brought to you by journalist and author Dana Sitar.
Why I Value Failure
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.
That was great. Thank you, Dana.
Dana Sitar is a freelance journalist and indie author. She shares resources, tips, and tools for writers in search of a path through the blog, ebooks, and community at DIYWriting. Dana 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.
In May 2011, Dana left her job and home in Madison, Wisconsin and traveled across the country to make a living writing. She had little experience, but high hopes, perseverance, creativity, and a willingness to experiment helped her land clients, start publishing, and make a living doing what she loved. When friends, family, and colleagues started to ask Dana how she was able to do it, she made it her mission to motivate other artists to forget their fears and follow their dreams.
Dana’s first ebook for writers, AWriter’sBucketList: 99 thingstodoforinspiration, education, andexperiencebeforeyourwritingkicksthebucket, does just that. The inspirational and educational guide for writers at all levels of their careers was released in February 2013 by DIY Writing.
In addition to self-publishing, Dana has written for Writer’s Digest, The Daily Cardinal, The Onion, Baystages, and Maximum Ink. She covers stand-up comedy for SF Weekly and Laughspin. She has written about writing, freelancing, and career topics for dozens of popular writing and career blogs, including The Creative Penn, Musings from the Slushpile, and Brazen Life.
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