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The "F" Word And How to Use It While Writing

Did that title catch your attention?

Did I mislead you? Maybe. Because I'm talking the big 'F' word , FAILURE!
And I want to talk to you about how we can use failure in our FAVOR! Then we can talk about a new 'F' word, FAVOR!
I have to admit that I get a lot of mail from writers about the ups and downs of writing, mainly their failures. They want to know how I did it. Trust me, there were a lot of FAILURES and I still have them. But I turn them around and use them in my FAVOR!

If you follow me on Facebook (and I hope you do), you know that I post a lot of inspiration quotes and motivation quotes. There are two reasons I do this.

1) There is so much negative energy in the world that if I can touch one person or change one person's attitude for that day, it was worth it.
2) I post quotes everywhere. They make me feel good. I even sharpie marker them on my laptop.

Yes! I'm one of those happy people. I never return an email that doesn't have something positive to say. Yes! I've said the typical answers that you have heard from others when you have told someone that you have failed:

"Look how far you have come."
"Pay it forward to others authors."
"Give gratitude."
"There is always a reason this is happening to you."

But what about those BIGGIE FAILURES?

The last thing you want to hear is that it happens for a reason, or you need to look at the glass half full. Even I get a little discouraged with the biggies. And by biggies, I mean rejection letters from agents/editors, when you self publish your novel and only five people buy it....those are BIGGIES that aren't taken lightly.

These BIGGIES are the ones that fester inside us, looks like there is no end in sight, not a bruise but the one that becomes infected and stifles our creative limb that you think you need to amputate.

This is the time that those sweet quotes don't work. The kind words don't make us feel better, and even moral support isn't enough to pull us out of the muck!

Sometimes we just have to get out the white flag and surrender. Yes! Surrender.
Surrending is NOT failing. It is realizing that something didn't go the way we wanted it to, even though we did do our best. It's time we realize that some things are just out of our control. AND this was one of those times.

Of course it didn't turn out the way we wanted it to. So we worry about it. We think about all the possibilities like timing, or what happened. These things are out of our control. Wave the white flag.

BUT we can control how we react to FAILURE! And how we handle ourselves.

1) Go ahead, punch a pillow, scream out loud in an empty house, cry, and remember to laugh.
2) Decide who you want to share your failure with. They have had failure too. Don't fall into people saying "people are going through something worse than you." NO! This is your worst and you need someone who is going to listen.
3) Heal. Don't pull up your boot straps and put on your big girl panties/big boy underwear. You have had a major setback that is important to you. You need time to heal. Don't swallow your pride. Pride can be evil and you don't fall into it. It's time to be vulnerable and honest with yourself. Doing so will give you the steps you need to grow in your career. Facing it gives you the opportunity to face your fears.
4) During the healing process, remember to take care of yourself and do the things you love to do. If it's going to DQ and getting an ice cream. . . do it! If it means buying a new tool, do it. Going to the spa. . .DO IT!
5) Stop trying to impress the authors that you think is doing better than you. They have their issues too, but they approach them differently. You are unique. There are NO two writers alike AND that includes you!

At the end of the day, we can not control the publishing industry. We can only control us and how we react to the situation that is handed to us. We can not determine the outcome of anything in this industry. If we could, we'd all be on the New York Times Best Sellers list! All I ask is to do your best and when your world falls apart, and someone tells you to "work harder". . .ignore them! You decide how you treat yourself at the end of the day. I hope you chose respect, love, and compassion. No one is going to take care of you better than you!

Have you let the "F" word define who you are?


  1. Oh, Tonya, you've said it ALL here :) Just goes to show why I love "seeing"/reading you on FB so much. You've always got something good to say or to share. Thank you!

    1. Oh, Candice! Thank you so much! I truly live by paying it forward and helping out others without expecting anything back. It's true KARMA at its finest. I hope and pray every time I post something, that I can touch at least one person. Not change them, but have them stop and think.

  2. Not an option!! It at first I don't succeed, I see it as a gift from the Universe given in order to get me back on my Path. I say "Thank you." Good job, Tonya ... as always.

    1. Hi, PJ! We can NOT compete with the Universe!

  3. Great post Tonya. Being positive and looking through the bad around us isn't just key for writing, but for life in general. Sure, there are major problems in the world... but there were problems yesterday, last year, and a hundred years ago. The best thing anyone can do is remember that if they're reading this blog or this comment, they woke up today... and that alone is a gift to embrace! :)


    1. Jim, we could take so many lessons we learn from writing and apply it to every day life. YES! We woke up today!

  4. Good article Tonya. When the biggies hit us,we do need time to come to grips with it.

    I remember my first rejection letter.

    I worked so hard on the manuscript, researching agents and publishers, getting the query letter together just right. I did everything I could to be polished and the best. I put the same professional effort into my writing that I put into my successful career.

    Rejection? How can that be? This is a different arena than my career. Artistic endeavors don't have the same rules, lol!

    So yeah, you need time to process it, realize there could be a lot of reasons for one. It doesn't mean you suck, could be timing or any of a number of things.

    Of course, I could paper a wall in my house with my rejections, lol! we all get them.

    I usually throw myself into other creative things and give myself a break. I do something I know I'm good at and I can see the results. Then I pick myself up and go forward again.


    1. I love that, SIA! about ten years ago I was going through a rough patch and I decided to go to a knitting class. I threw myself into the project and loved going to visit with the group and getting away from issues for a while. It worked out great! And I have a felted purse to show for it;)


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