I’ve been thinking about writing and driving recently. To illustrate my point, I thought I’d share my experience from my first driving test.
The first time I went to take my driving test, I was so nervous. I thought I was a good driver, but when I went for my test everything went out the window. I messed up my manoeuvre, and although I knew I’d failed my test, I had to keep going for the remaining thirty minutes.
In that small space of time, I think I actually failed another two times. Part of my nervousness was the thought of the man sitting next to me. Watching constantly. Ticking off everything on his clipboard. That pressure to do well, knowing that my driving instructor and my parents was waiting for me to pass. Plus, I put a lot of pressure on myself. I had considered the thought of failure, but up until that point, never seriously. Until I did fail.
I was so upset. It took me at least two weeks to get back into my driving lessons, to rebook the test and try again. It was really hard for me to face my failure. But you know what I realised? I wasn’t the good driver I thought I was. I needed work, and ultimately, even though failing hurt, I needed to fail in order to make me a better driver. It meant that when I did finally pass my test, not only was it well earned, but I was a better driver than I would have been had I passed that test first time.
Looking back now, I’m glad I failed. Which sounds horrible. But it’s true.
Anyway, back to writing. The point of that personal tale was this: in writing, it’s easy to fail. You can fail and fail and it sucks. It seems like the worst thing in the world at the time – you feel like the worst writer in the entire universe. But I like to believe that most things, if not everything, happens for a reason. Failing is a part of that. The novel which might seem like your only hope could actually be the prelude to your publishing contract on your next novel (Natalie Whipple and Kiersten White are great examples of this!). Getting rejected by one agent could lead you to another amazing agent you couldn’t dream of being without.
Failure is a part of life. Ultimately, it’s a part of writing too. We write rubbish first drafts. We learn how to edit the hard way. We write thousands of words which we know might never go anywhere. It is tough. It’s hard to deal with, and sometimes, it’s too easy to dwell in pity and think about what an awful writer you are. So you take a break. You pick yourself back up again. Then, you write.
All those failures mean something. I can look back on that failed driving test now with no bitterness or resentment. I just wasn’t ready to pass, and that principle can be applied to writing too. The time will come around for you – you just have to be willing to pick yourself up, learn from the failure, and move on. New opportunities and new successes are just around the corner.