‘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.”