You fail only if you stop writing. — Ray Bradbury
A couple of days ago, I was speaking with a group of writers and one person asked if I had ever “let go” of a piece of writing. She wanted to know if I had ever given up on a manuscript.
The answer is of course I have! In fact, I once spent two years researching and writing and ...eventually ... realizing I couldn’t make the project work. Perhaps one day I’ll pick it up again. But if I don’t, it isn’t a loss or a waste of time because I really enjoyed the experience of the work, and that failed manuscript taught me a lot. The so-called failure produced incredible growth.
No one has to read what you write
That’s why—at the beginning of each new project—I remind myself that no one ever has to read what I write. If I write a terrible draft and can’t figure out how to fix it, it’s fine to let it go. It’s also fine to fix it or change it entirely. Writing without expectations frees me to experiment and take chances with my prose.
Focusing on publication is a great way to inhibit yourself
If you’ve ever wondered why my blog never focuses on “What Agents Want Now” or “How To Get Published”, this is the reason. The most important part of your job as a writer is writing. So if you can, try to liberate yourself from pressure and expectations. Just focus on the input—the writing—and then trust that you’ll know what to do with the finished product.