No one wants to fail. Some avoid failure as best as possible, forgoing its lessons. However, failure is not bad; it is necessary for success.
If you look at how writers, including researchers, become successful, you will see that failure is part of it. When it comes to publishing work in scientific journals in particular, rejection is the norm. There’s no point in avoiding failure if it’s part of the game. It is as good as avoiding an opportunity to learn something that might lead to success the next time you submit a text.
Once in a while I have counseled someone who has tried to avoid failure at all costs. But by doing so, that person doesn’t give him- or herself the opportunity to learn as well as succeed either, because he or she doesn’t write at all. Avoiding failing already implies failure.
Sure, I don’t like to fail either, but I accept the possibility and probability of failure. Whenever failure strikes me, I learn something to help me prevent future failures. So what can you do, if you are afraid of failing and don’t allow yourself to get into situations in which you might fail?
First, you need to accept the rules of the game: success and failure are both possible and, for the latter, very probable. Second, you need to take the opportunities to learn whenever they emerge. Repeated failures (e.g. rejections from journals) mean repeated opportunities. And third, you need to train the craft of scientific writing in order to become better. If you don’t train, you can neither fail nor succeed.
Here are ideas for chronic avoiders of failure: Write something and give it to the most critical person you know for feedback. Or put together the paper that you are working on, or have avoided for so long, and submit it to the most relevant and important journal in your field. In any case, take the chance to fail and learn – time and again.
This is the last post on this blog. After five years and almost 100 posts, I will stop posting. Thank you for reading! May you succeed (and sometimes fail) with your writing projects! May you become the writer you wish to be!