1. You started writing a story, but you never finished.
2. You finished writing a story, but you haven’t touched it since.
3. You told yourself you were going to submit something you wrote, but never did.
4. You did submit something, but you never heard back.
5. You did hear back — and all you got was rejection.
6. You’re discouraged by the feedback you’re getting — you’re not as “good” as you thought you were.
7. Your book didn’t sell as many copies as you hoped it would.
8. Your blog doesn’t have as many readers as you thought it would by now.
9. You’re not making as much money writing as you think you should be.
10. You’re not as excited about your latest project as you were when you started it.
11. You want to give up. Quit.
12. You have given up already, because things didn’t work out the way you dreamed they would.
All these things don’t collectively make you a failure. They mean you are learning and growing. There isn’t a single writer out there who starts out knowing exactly what to do, exactly how to do it well, and with enough skill and experience to create success in a matter of months. All writers start in the same place: never having written anything before. We all have to figure it out. We all have to try something a dozen different times, a thousand different ways, before we either quit or something starts working.
You are not a failure. You are a writer. If you were perfect, if everything you did worked out the way you hoped it would, success wouldn’t even be worth it. It’s the thrill of it all, the fear of failing, the relief when you finally do something right — and the uncertainty that you’ll ever do it well again — that makes challenging yourself worth the achievement.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.