Failing Better

Today on her reading and writing blog, Kelly Hashway shared her thoughts about good not being enough in her own writing:

I totally identified.

As I told Kelly, I’m always trying to improve my writing too, and I listed a few of the things that I routinely do to get there:

  • Reading great books (that “This!” moment when you see what an author has done so well). Recent a-ha moments have come from these amazing books:
    • Plain Kate by Erin Bow – poetic beauty in the sparsest of language
    • Love, Aubrey by Suzanne LaFleur – amazingly authentic voice
    • Matched by Ally Condie – a masterpiece of conflict and tension
  • Getting feedback on my work (critique partners, beta readers etc.). Everything from “I don’t think you’re starting this manuscript in the right place” to “You know, you use this word way too much.”
  • Attending conferences/retreats and reading craft books (learning from great authors/editors about how to succeed). Separate post on my favorite conferences/retreats to come!

Then I realized that this whole thing reminded me of Samuel Beckett’s words: “Fail again. Fail better.”

It’s the writing of course. My writing. The time, the effort, the work. The only way to get better is to continue to do it.

5 thoughts on “Failing Better

  1. Kip, thanks for joining in my discussion. Getting feedback from others is very important. It’s not easy to see our own weaknesses, so we sometimes have to rely on others to point them out so we can make ourselves better writers.
    I’m attending my local SCBWI conference in the beginning of April. I always learn a lot there, and I meet great critique partners. I’m signed up for a manuscript critique with an editor from Aladdin, too, so I know I’ll get some really helpful feedback.

  2. LOVE, AUBREY is one of my favorite MG books because of its voice. That first chapter is heartbreaking.

    I am in a period of failing better, too–but I’m grateful to know that I’m “failing better” rather than just “failing,” and to know, too, that I’m on the right path to becoming a better storyteller. In that sense, “failing better” is pretty exciting.

  3. Thank you for that, Kip. “Fail again, Fail better,” I love that and am writing it down right now so I can remember it. I’m responding to you through Kelly’s post. She and I are getting our first picture books published through the same publisher. Anyway, I need both you and her posts today and they have definitely made me feel inspired once again!

    I didn’t see a place to follow you but would appreciate you following me if you so desire at Thanks

  4. Kip, interesting post! I do think that the most important way to improve your writing is to, well, write. But putting some intention behind it and learning new techniques and strategies helps a lot. Great book recommendations!

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