I once wrote an About Me page for a client that proudly described how much she loved ‘facilitating big shits’ in her clients’ lives.
…Oh what a difference one tiny missing ‘f’ makes!
Then there was that time I agreed to a rush job for a corporate client, didn’t have as much time as I normally would to proofread, and ended up sending off a report – to a LOT of people – which insisted that the ‘anus of proof’ was on the other party.
And one time – embarrassingly recently, and in a very public forum – I wrote a piece mistakenly referring to Sir David Attenborough (one of my all-time personal heroes) as a ‘world-changing naturist’.
Of course, what I really meant was that he was a world-changing naturalist – someone who’s passionate about natural history… Not a naturist – someone who’s passionate about being nude.
(While I’m sure that Sir D-Att’s bare butt is mighty fine, I don’t know if it qualifies as ‘world changing’.)
Why the laundry list of wordsmith faux pas?
Because when you’re writing anything – from emails to reports to blog posts to books – you are bound to make mistakes at some point. We all are.
Sometimes they’ll be kind of hilarious, like these ones are.
Sometimes, they’ll be mortifying. Like when you *finally* get around to emailing your list after three months of silence, and are feeling super proud of yourself, then realise there’s a spelling error in the damn headline.
And sometimes, they’ll seem like straight-up creative catastrophes. Like when you spend three months writing an eBook, only to read through the finished draft and realise that the first half has a completely different voice/tone/thesis to the second half and you need to start over from scratch.
Whenever a screw-up goes down, most Creative Souls have a tendency to beat themselves up and use it as evidence that they should never write anything again, ever.
This, of course, is bullshit.
For three reasons.
1. Literally, the only way we learn is through our failures.
While successes are fun and rewarding (and feel really good), they don’t teach us anywhere near as much as our faux pas and failings.
If you ever want to grow and learn as a writer, you better start getting comfy with making creative mistakes.
2. If everything you write is ‘perfect’, you’re either sitting on it too long, not pushing yourself far enough, or have toned everything down to a state of bland conformity.
You should be making creative mistakes. You should be trial-and-error-ing. You should be stepping outside your comfort zone into unfamiliar territory… That’s how you know you’re on the leading edge of your abilities.
3. Forgiving yourself and getting back on the horse is the only way you’ll ever achieve that Big Thing your heart is dreaming of.
This is the most important reason of all.
And – spoiler alert! – it applies to every single life area you can think of. Whether it’s writing a book, building a business, losing 30 pounds, whatever – you ARE going to make mistakes; you ARE going to fall off that horse.
The people who actually achieve those Big Things are the ones who forgive themselves quickest, climb back on the Clydesdale, and keep nudging their steed forward – even as they’re bruised and battered from the fall.
That’s the big secret to writing well.
Hell, it’s the big secret to life-ing well.
… Jumping back in the saddle is the most powerful act of all.