‘Failure Instructs the Writer’ : NaNoWriMo Tip #12

By Jason Boog 

Too many National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) writers get wrapped up in the idea of winning–from hitting 50,000-words to publishing the manuscript. Our twelfth NaNoWriMo Tip of the Day comes straight from novelist Michael Chabon: “failure instructs the writer.”

Chabon wrote those words about Fountain City, a 1,500-page manuscript he abandoned in 1992. Chabon will publish four chapters from the “wrecked” novel in an upcoming edition of McSweeney’s. Despite that failure, the novelist went on to write¬†the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay.¬†

Here is an inspiring excerpt from the preface: “[F]ailure instructs the writer. Every novel, in the moments before we begin to write it, is potentially the greatest, the most beautiful or thrilling ever written … Our greatest duty as artists and as humans is to pay attention to our failures, to break them down, study the tapes, conduct the postmortem, pore over the findings; to learn from our mistakes.”