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Accepting failure may be key to overcome writer’s block

Success is 90% failure.

I think the statement comes from a speech that Steve Jobs gave.  If you read the biographies of successful men and women, like Henry Ford or Thomas Alva Edison, they failed over and over again.  Same with Churchill and Abraham Lincoln.

So failing is a critical piece of learning.

But in school we learn that failing is a very bad idea and it is often accompanied by ridicule.  So getting something wrong is a bad idea through our education.  Errors are often reasons to get fired at all, or reprimanded.  And yet, if you speak to any entrepreneur, they have learned by learning what doesn’t work.

How do we get relaxed about failure?  How do we accept, even welcome failure as a sign that we are learning.

Let’s face it:  if you don’t fail you aren’t trying hard enough, or aiming high enough. You are doing on the things that are comfortable, that you already know.  You aren’t going to spread out into areas that are beyond your comfort range.  That means stagnation. I think we are designed to learn.  Our brains appear to atrophy if we don’t continue to learn.  One way to minimize the risk of dementia is to continue to learn something difficult like a foreign language.

And you can’t learn a foreign language unless you are willing to speak and write badly.  In high school I was fluent in French and I became so with a friend, Carol. We went into the city and spoke only French.  We were dreadful at the beginning but gradually we spoke hesitantly, and then fluently.

So errors are essential to learning.

A successful novelist once told me that to become a successful writer you have to write six novels. Six novels that aren’t published.  Six novels that fail.  He thought that was the only way to get a feel, to learn viscerally how to write the novel, not only in our minds but also in our bodies.

If we allow ourselves to fail, most writer’s blocks will evaporate.

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