Have you ever written something you were proud of — something you were certain would “go viral” — and it absolutely tanked?
I’m pretty sure we’ve all been there. And it’s not. Fun.
You start doubting yourself. Do I really know what my audience wants? Is my writing actually terrible? Should I just give up and get an office job like my mom told me to?
First of all, take a deep breath. Because one outlier proves nothing, and you’re probably overreacting.
Let’s say, hypothetically, you have a blog. And on your blog, for the past six months, you have been getting a fairly consistent number of likes, comments, views — however you measure your general rate of growth and success over time.
Earlier this week, you published something that didn’t even come close to those numbers.
You panic a little, of course. But you decide to wait things out. See what happens tomorrow. Because either the world has suddenly turned on you, or there was a weird glitch in the system and everything will get back to normal.
Tomorrow comes. And your next post performs just as well as all the others, except that one garbage post you thought might hit home for a lot of readers.
WHAT. THE. HECK.
Unfortunately, you could spend hours trying to figure out what went wrong and walk away without answers. The internet is weird. Sometimes things get lost. Google does a weird thing. People don’t see what you posted as they normally might.
Or it was a really bad post that no one wanted to read for whatever reason. Unless the comments tell you so, you’ll never really know what might have gone wrong.
But let’s just assume you messed up. You wrote something bad. Your headline was terrible. Whatever happened, you did not produce something your audience wanted. Should you just throw it away?
No. You’re not going to like what I have to say, but you need to hear it.
Use this as a learning experience.
Even though you might never know for sure what exactly went wrong (analytics only go so far), let this be a reminder that not everything you publish is going to be good.
Not everything you write will get the type of response you’re hoping for.
Sometimes, even great writers write not-so-great things.
Does that make them bad writers? Nope. It makes them human.
You are not a robot. You cannot keep writing and keep writing and keep writing and expect better and better results every single time. Yes, overall, and gradually, your writing will improve. But sometimes, you’ll fail. Successful writers learn that this is just part of the deal.
And they just keep writing anyway.
After all, the more (quality) content you produce, the more chances you have at success. You’ll fail a lot more often. But you’ll succeed even more often than that. Probably.
Don’t let one bad experience discourage you too much. Chances are, you’re doing fine.
As for that one bad blog post, well. Maybe look more closely at it someday. See if you can pick out its flaws. Figure out what you can make of it. Or just blame algorithms. It’s the thing to do these days, you know.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.