“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” ~ John Powell
There’s a statement it’s hard to dispute and it can apply to many things in our lives, but I’m going to apply it to writing, and I’m going to take it a step further.
Actually you can’t make a mistake in writing. Yes, you can write poorly, but of course, hopefully you/we will learn from that so it’s not a mistake at all, right? Your grammar or your spelling may be awful, but that’s not unfixable, right? There are tools to help and of course you can, what was that again?, learn.
You can write for the wrong audience for you or you can write in a genre not suitable to your abilities, but again, those can’t be classified as mistakes as from doing those things you’ll learn — not to do them. Or you’ll learn to change and enhance your abilities or write better/more appropriately for those audiences you want to enthrall.
What I’m saying here is writing, like life, is a learning experience. And, more, the two are intertwined. The more you live, the more you experience, the more you let your curiosity lead the way the more you learn. And if you’re a writer, the more your writing will change, evolve, and improve.
And once we look at it that way, all the little booboos we make in life take on a whole new direction. If you’re focusing and understand the learning process for yourself then learning from mistakes is not that difficult. I mean some are obvious. In the big picture if you slam your thumb with a hammer you learn several things. It hurts, your nail may fall off and you’ll do your best not to do that again (whether you succeed or not, well that’s another question).
The same applies when you narrow your focus from the world at large down to your writing and getting your work out there for folks to read. If you make some big gaffs and the book doesn’t sell you may learn you really DO need to market that thing. Or you may learn HOW to market that thing. Or you might learn you didn’t write that very well and you need to rethink your creation.
All in all you can turn what many might feel to be a mistake or mistakes into something you can learn from and come out even better because of it.
These things are worth pondering at times because frequently we writers tend to beat ourselves up all too often over what we should have done or could have done or what we feel we did poorly.
So get yourself out of that zone and focus on what you did right and well and how you can learn from those other things we aren’t going to call mistakes.
Oh, and apply it to the rest of your life as well.