How To Fail At Story-Telling

fail stamp

“What if my stories are no good? What if I fail?”

This is possibly the most powerful thing holding us back.

We can find or make time if we really want to. Even if the power lines went down and the world ran out of paper, we could tell our stories out loud, around campfires as of old.

The most insightful of us understand that success brings its own stresses and that worries us.(Imagine if your first novel was a best-seller. Where would you go from there?!)

But the thing that really stops us?

Fear of failure.

Good News! Failure is Good For You!

This study, from the University of Colorado shows failure is one of the best things that can happen to an organization (and if it can transform a sprawling, quasi-governmental organization like NASA, how much easier should it be for you and I to draw lessons from failture?

The study’s authors assert that whereas success leads us down the same old path, failure can force us to reexamine every aspect of what we’re doing and how we’re doing it, and toss out the things that aren’t working.

The trick is to find a way to fail where people’s lives and reputations aren’t on the line.

You need a safe place to fail.

Welcome to StoryADay.org!

Where better to learn how to fail and move on quickly past the failures quickly, than here? There are no agents and editors looking over your shoulder, just other writers who are struggling with the same issues?

Writing a lot in a short space of time, forces you to blow past the bad days, the stories that didn’t work out, the styles that you thought you could use but discovered you really can’t.

When you commit to writing a story a day, you can’t sit around worrying about why yesterday’s story stalled. You get you head down and you move on, and, if you’re smart, you try something new.

An intense writing race like this allows you to play, experiment and find your style fast.

If you write even a story a week, it’ll take you over half a year to learn as much about your writing as if you sit down and craft a story every day for a month.

You need an accelerated course in failure!

StoryADay may can be that course. Start gathering your ideas for the next challenge.

If a whole month sounds like too many chances to fail all at once, stay tuned for news of the StoryADay Warm-Up Class, starting March 22, 2011now available as a Home Study course.

(This is a group-learning opportunity, complete with videos, worksheets, audio lessons, forums and writing assignements, lasting 3 weeks and giving you a couple of weeks to regroup before May begins. More about this in tomorrow’s post)

Don’t Get Hung Up On Failure

Remember that the stories that don’t work out are the ones you want to write and get out of your system as soon as possible.

Most successful writers would probably agree with Randy K. Milholland when he said,

We all have a few failures under our belt. It’s what makes us ready for the successes.

StoryADay (and other creative challenges) can be a safe place to fail.

In the meantime: back to your writing!

3 thoughts on “How To Fail At Story-Telling”

  1. Hi Mark,

    Thanks for getting in touch. I’m so pleased to hear about all the writing you’re doing. Good for you!

    We’d love to have you along, even if you’re just reporting on your progress for other challenges and lending enthusiasm to the newbies!

    All the best,

  2. Hey Julie,
    Couldn’t find a better place to leave this comment, so I’ll leave it here. I read your description of the warm-up class and in any other time, I’d be right on it. It sounds great. But … I’m in the middle of another challenge to write 25 short stories in 2011 and also will be starting a creative writing program at one of the local universities in a couple of weeks. So, my limited time is booked. Good luck with the warm-up class. I hope to find a way to participate in the May challenge.


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