There are a lot of articles and videos on the topic of “failure”. They tell stories of people who have, in their words, failed multiple times, only to get back up and try again. Sometimes they succeed at what they were trying to do; other times they discovered something else useful out of all the other failures they had to work through.
This concept of “failure” is a tough one for me to deal with because of its strong negative connotations. I don’t like the word in general, which is why I wrote on my other blog years ago that I prefer experimented instead. While motivational and sales training types try to turn the word “failure” into something that helps you become better, I find that having words like that lingering too long in one’s mind is more depressing than encouraging.
It’s not that I immediately came to the realization that “failure” was a word holding me back from trying to achieve success. I thought about posts I’ve written in the past on the subject, or at least touched upon it. Years ago I participated in something titled 34 Questions and my answer to #17, which was “What Do You Fear The Most”, was failure. I also wrote a post titled The Fine Line Between Blog Visitors Success and Failure where I was saying just how you never know when good things will happen based on something you do and how others react to it.
We all see this in our own way. For instance, an article I read had this guy talking about 5 posts that didn’t generate the publicity he expected they would, and wondered why they failed. I thought at the time that no one hits a home run with every single post they write. I’ve written posts I thought were brilliant that didn’t catch on, and I’ve written short, snappy pieces that I figured were one-offs, only to have people reading them in droves.
If I was the type who believed that I was failing because some of my posts didn’t take off as I’d hoped, I might be inclined to give up the ghost, start eating more rice krispies treats and gain a lot of weight. Instead, I look at my output after all these years and decided that, in my own mind at least, I don’t come close to failing in my mind. I’ve definitely experimented with different content and styles over the years, but failure isn’t a part of my mindset.
When you’re putting out a lot of material, you always try to do your best, and there’s a lot of good stuff out there. Let’s do a short comparison by looking at two great classical composers in history; Mozart and Beethoven.
Mozart wrote more than 600 compositions that we know of; Beethoven wrote 200. Mozart was a “staff writer”; he was employed to write music, pure and simple. When whichever benefactor he was working for at the time said music was needed for some event, he wrote it. Sure, he wrote things on his own as well, but sometimes he had to compose something quickly, sometimes in less than a week. I used to write music and songs would come to me fast, but I was on my own time; I’m not sure I’d have been able to have the kind of output Mozart had with that kind of pressure.
Beethoven was different. He was a professional composer, one who lived at a time when musicians were finally being seen as artists and not lower class workers. Because of this, Beethoven got to take his time writing, and he was known as a perfectionist. Yet, even as a perfectionist, he had his flops here and there.
His opera Fidelio flopped, even after many revisions, and it bothered him the rest of his life. Some of his sonatas connected with audiences while others threw them off. His 9th Symphony, considered one of the greatest works of all time now, had a grand opening, mainly because of the respect he garnered, then received critical responses with every other performance until the 1900’s.
Did either Mozart of Beethoven fail? These days most of what both composers wrote are seen as major triumphs, especially Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, considering that he was deaf when he composed it. For both artists, the longer they composed, the better their music got even if their audiences weren’t ready for it. Sometimes these are lessons for the rest of us to learn. If we produce content consistently, and we keep trying to grow our blogging proficiency, can anything we do really be considered as failure even if it doesn’t all resonate with the masses?
This is why I’ve always said that we have to realize that we need to think of ourselves as much as our audience when we write. I’ve read those who write about making money that we need to write for the customer, write to their level so that they understand and will buy your product. I believe that unless you’re hired to do something specific, or you’re promoting a product you’re trying to sell, you have to like what you do in order to give your writing personality.
If you do that, you can never say you’ve failed at anything. Maybe it didn’t do as well you’d hoped, but failed… never! Remember, you can always repurpose an article if you believe in it; what’s old can be made new again. 🙂
You never fail; you’re a scientist in your own right. You and I are experimenting, hoping we can find better success. Who’s got a problem with that?