Stop Using the F-Word: FAIL

Posted February 20, 2014 by Amanda Shofner in Writing / 0 Comments


I dare you to go a day without using the word “fail” or “failure” to describe something you do. Fail has crept into daily use, where our first reaction to a problem or conflict is to call it a fail.

Haven’t read a popular book yet? Reader fail.

Haven’t gotten to write your book yet? Writer fail.

Behind on your goals the first day of an event? Epic fail.

Didn’t get to write because you had a family crisis? Obviously this is the biggest EPIC FAIL ever.

How you talk to yourself matters

When Kelly Apple and I had our #onedaywrite, I wanted to write 5,000 words. I wrote 1,000. But I didn’t call it a fail, even when it was the first term that popped into my brain. Yes, I was 4,000 words short of my goal, but I’d spent the day with a raging headache. Writing 1,000 words when I didn’t want to write any was an accomplishment. Period.

Life happens. You can’t do it all. Stop trying. And quit saying you’re failing. You always have a second chance.

If you haven’t read a book yet, grab it from the library the next time you need a new book to read. If you haven’t gotten to write your book yet, quit making excuses and sit down to write. If you’re behind on your goals, make it up tomorrow or the day after. If you have a family crisis, you have nothing to apologize for. Write when you can.

And I know that we use “fail” because we feel we’ve let someone down or we feel bad when we don’t make time for some activity we think we should do. It’s because we put pressure on ourselves and feel shame and guilt when we don’t live up to it.

But it’s time to stop calling your actions a fail and do something to fix it instead

Fail is just another way to throw up your hands and say, “Welp, I tried, but couldn’t do it, so I’m going to move onto something else.” Fail gives into negativity and complaining. People use “fail” as the end point.

The path to success is paved with failure. Only the people on the path to success don’t see their fails as actual fails: they see them as lessons to be learned and future actions to take. They don’t stop. They don’t give up. They turn a negative into a positive and persevere.

Sometimes life requires readjusting your plans and goals, and the key is being flexible enough to adjust with them.

When you erase “fail” from your vocabulary, you’re forced to look at your actions in a new light. Rather than saying, “Today was a total writing fail” you say, “Well, I didn’t accomplish my goal today, but I have free time tomorrow, so I’ll try to get caught up then.”

By saying the second, you can both acknowledge your lack of progress and take steps to correct it.

Telling yourself you’ve failed or you’re a failure doesn’t encourage you to keep going or succeed

Be nice to yourself. Be realistic with what you can accomplish. And then do it.


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