Anastasia Suen

Developmental Editor

Category: creativity (Page 3 of 14)

Failure or Success?

“I have not failed 10,000 times; I’ve successfully found 10,000 ways that did not work.” Thomas Edison

Ah, chapter 5, I wrote you day after day after day . . .
and found almost 10,000 ways that you DIDN’T work this week.

I wrote draft after draft, trying idea after idea, until finally . . .
the pieces all fit together.

Was that a failure?
Or was it a success?

It depends on how you look at it. Trying new ideas until one fits can be viewed either way.

Q. Is the book a failure because nothing seems to work yet?
A. Some days it feels that way.

Q. On the other hand, is it realistic to expect to find the piece that fits just right without any effort?
A. Not really. That’s why we write more than one draft.

We number our drafts (first draft, second draft, etc.) because we always write more than one. So why consider the need to write a new draft a failure if that is the way the creative process works?

Writing more than one draft of your book means you are succeeding, not failing! Don’t expect to find all of the pieces that fit in your story right away.

Magical thinking can be fun to read in a story, but it’s not a practical way to approach your writing.

magical thinking
“a belief that merely thinking about an event in the external world can cause it to occur.”
Mosby’s Medical Dictionary, 9th edition. © 2009, Elsevier.

Things don’t just happen because you want them to happen.
Things happen because you WORK to make them happen.

You’re not going to find all of the pieces that fit in your story right away.
You’re not going to find all of the pieces that fit if you stop writing either.

Will you keep writing this week
even when things don’t quite fit yet?

Copyright © 2017 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.

Just Keep Writing

“Do one thing everyday that scares you.” Eleanor Roosevelt

For many writers, that “one thing” is the story we are writing.


Well, speaking for myself, I find this to be the case when the writing isn’t going well, when the words aren’t flowing, and things are just NOT working out.

Hmm . . .

But if I STOP working on the story at this point, it only makes things worse.


Not working on the story when I am stumped makes it a BIG deal,

and that makes it scarier,

and if I put it off even longer . . .

it gets even MORE difficult.

Writing a book is just like being the main character in a book.

When the story begins, things are going just fine…
and then the trouble starts. (This is the end of Act 1.)
In Act 2, things get worse . . .
and worse . . .
and WORSE!
Act 2 ends with a moment of ENLIGHTENMENT
when the main character (or the writer!) figures out what to do . . .
In Act 3, there is a massive struggle,
and finally, success!

In MOST of the story, the main character does NOT succeed.
Things go wrong — over and over and OVER again.

For MOST of the story, the writer does NOT succeed.
Things go wrong — over and over and OVER again.

The only way the main character (or the writer!) will succeed is to KEEP GOING . . .

Is it scary?
Is it frustrating?
Is it how the creative process works?

If you don’t keep writing, you won’t get to the end of Act 2.
If you don’t keep writing, you won’t reach the moment of ENLIGHTENMENT.

Will you do one scary thing
each day –and keep writing?

Copyright © 2017 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.

Failure is an Event

“Failure is an event — it is not a person.” Zig Ziglar

Failure is part of the creative process, but that doesn’t make it easy.

When something doesn’t work, you have to start over (and over and over).

The flip side of failure, the other side of that coin, is the fact that we all experience it.

As a developmental editor I often read early drafts of stories without any real problems for the main character. A story starts when something changes, when the main character suddenly has a problem to solve.

Without a problem, the story doesn’t feel real to us. It is not our truth.

Another common early draft scenario I encounter is a story with a problem that is quickly solved.

Stories with problems that are easily solved don’t feel quite real either. Where are the failures? Where is the struggle that we all experience?

The stories that satisfy are the ones where the main character fights an uphill battle as things continue to go wrong. The situation gets worse as the story continues.

Despite all of the problems, we keep reading because we have been there too. Even in fantasy story that takes place somewhere we have never been, we identify with the main character because we have been there on an emotional level. We have lived that experience in some way. It is our truth.

This is why we keep reading until the story reaches the final battle in Act 3 and at long last, the main character finally figures out what to do.

You have to pick yourself up and keep going.

Creating isn’t easy. It is hard.

But after all of that failure, success feels so very good.

Failure is an event–

in the stories we write

and the stories we live.

Will you make time to create
and fail –and then keep creating this week?

P.S. On Sundays I have been sharing quotes about the creative process on another site, but now that the posts have evolved into writing about my day job as a developmental editor, it makes more sense for me to share these posts here with the #amwriting #kidlit hashtags. Enjoy!

Copyright © 2017 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.

Page 3 of 14

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