As the old cliché goes: life is full of opportunities. And the same is true of writing. I’ve been thinking about this lately, as I try to convince myself to sit down and work on my novel. Each time we go to draft or to journal or to create with words, we are granted an opportunity to delve into other worlds, to meet and think as different people, and to practice and refine a craft. The opportunity only grows from there when we try to get published or to find other outlets for our ideas.
I talk sometimes quite negatively about my writing life, but writing itself has opened doors for me in a lot of various ways. As a product manager, I was required to write product specs and to articulate ideas to different parties who didn’t all speak the same “language.” As an editor, I was made better by paying attention to how other people wrote. For my master’s I got to think more critically of the process we take to reach a final, meaningful piece. And, last but not least, writing has always been the means by which I make sense of a chaotic world and express myself.
It’s no secret that I have a dislike of writing bad words. I know this, and I know I need to write badly first before I can hope to write well. But my own perfectionism has been a driving force in the way I approach my own writing, and because of it, I sometimes wonder if I’ve missed out. If I were braver about submitting my work, would I be published more already? If I were less afraid to write poorly, would I already have finished my novel? Am I losing opportunities this way?
I try to remind myself that fear of failure is not an excuse to forego potential opportunities. Failing even to fail is a missed opportunity itself. And in writing I think it’s more important than ever to fail, and to fail well. Otherwise nothing changes.
So what do you think? Have you ever felt like you’ve missed an opportunity?