It happens to the best of us. The worst happens.
We publish a blog post to thousands of subscribers with a glaring grammatical error. Or we accidentally “cc” someone on a client’s confidential email. Or we quote a source incorrectly in an interview. Or we discover inconsistencies in a released novel, causing friction with our fiction.
Unthinkable acts that we’re convinced will short-circuit our career, or brand us with a scarlet letter, forever. Causing us shame, embarrassment, and second thoughts about this writing thing.
But there’s life on the other side.
Allow me to rewind here for greater clarity…
About five months ago, after more than a decade of penning pieces for award-winning publications and personal clients, I decided to launch my own line of E-books. I was as proud as a new parent; I sent notices to everyone I knew. This chick was on cloud nine. That is, until I received my first professional book review on my opus.
It was unflattering, to say the least.
The reviewer reminded me of a strict English teacher back in school, pointing out the smallest of errors and making them a big deal. He showed no mercy.
After I held a private pity party, I decided to make a bad situation better. I wrote a humorous piece about what was initially perceived as a sad and uncomfortable ordeal.
The resulting article: “COMMA SUTRA?—How a bad book review became a satisfying experience”, sold to a popular writers’ blog! (And since you’re reading this at Re:Fiction, add another sale to my payday).
When Life Hands You Lemons, Make Lemonade…
As a seasoned writer, I can assure you that writing gaffes and missteps will come and go like teen-aged acne. Don’t sweat it.
As a wise man once said: “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% of what you do with it.”
With this in mind, here’s how to move forward in the face of writing disasters and setbacks to enjoy a more prosperous career.
1. Don’t Sweat It
In the best-selling book “Don’t Worry Make Money,” by Richard Carlson, Ph.D.,
the author shares: “When you make a big deal out of something you have done wrong, when you take yourself too seriously, you are actually setting the stage to repeat the mistake.” Most of us, I’m sure, wouldn’t want an encore of our errors.
2. Consider the Oak Principle
When you drop the ball, don’t bury your head in the sand or place blame elsewhere. Stand strong.
O WN up to the error.
K EEP moving forward, with the lesson learned.
3. Soften the Blow with Humor
Last year, Melania Trump made an error of epic proportion. She gave a speech that was pretty much an exact carbon copy of first lady, Michelle Obama. In an effort to do a little damage control, Donald Trump shared jokingly in Melania’s defense: “When Michelle Obama made that same speech everybody loved it!”
If you can laugh through it, you can live through it.
4. Learn to Work Smarter, Not Harder
Sometimes we are too close to our work to evaluate it objectively. Take advantage of the many online resources and tools available to today’s writers to minimize future errors.
Grammarly.com, for example, can help detect structural and word choice errors. The occasional goof is acceptable; too many and you’ll label yourself as a perpetual amateur.
5. Journal Your Journey
Bad situations and blunders, handled properly, produce good stories, essays, blog posts, or poems. Which means that you, my friend, have the opportunity to purge your emotions, tell your side, and possibly get paid in the process.
Consider purchasing a pretty journal to chronicle your challenges, creative ideas, story outlines, goals, and struggles. It will enhance your productivity, enlighten you, and help to organize your thoughts.
To Sum Things Up…
Don’t be bitter, be better.
Use these five timely tips to turn your writing misfortunes into a writing fortune this year.