It’s important to make mistakes

I used to be a programmer, and something that programmers and writers have in binarycommon as that they’re insular types who’d rather be left in a room by themselves.

Both professions have been pried out of their comfort zone in the last decade or so and forced to engage in the world of social media and networking.

Having gone through it once at least gave me a bit of an edge in managing the process a second time. (That’s what I keep telling myself anyway).

I was talking to someone recently after a Q&A session at the Exeter Novel Prize (see – networking and talking!) and I mentioned that I was far more interested in hearing about what hadn’t worked for authors than in their success stories.

Now, part of this is because misery loves company, but mainly because I can learn more from understanding what went wrong or why something didn’t work.

Back when I was learning to code, (a process someone described to me as like having a lobotomy, which is actually quite accurate as it’s rather painful and you have to learn to think in a completely different way. Having said that, I’ve never had a lobotomy…) Where was I? Learning to code, yes. I spent a while blagging it. Managing to keep up as I was getting it right but not really understanding what I was doing.

But the day came when I made a mistake, and that’s when I really started learning. Because it was only by going through the code and understanding what I’d written that I was able to work out what I’d done wrong and how to fix it.

Since then I’ve firmly believed that it’s more important to make mistakes than to get things right first time.

Here are a few famous inventions that wouldn’t be around today if their makers had got things right the first time:

  • Penicillin.slinky
  • The Pacemaker.
  • The Slinky.
  • Corn Flakes.
  • Post-it Notes.
  • X-Rays.
  • Choc Chip Cookies.
  • Fireworks.
  • Crisps.
  • Microwave Ovens.

Have you managed to pull off success from a failure? As I said, misery loves company 😉 Do share!

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2 Responses to It’s important to make mistakes

  1. Juneta says:

    Very inspiring thoughts. Fail upwards to succeed. Love it. I wish it felt like that too.
    Juneta @ Writer’s Gambit


  2. Typically most entrepreneurs have at least 10 failures under their belts before they have a big success. I’ve definitely had that experience while I was on my way to being published, and I’ve learned so much about marketing since. Life is nothing if not a set of trials and learning.

    Crystal Collier


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