Screw this Writing Thing: My Most Epic Writing Failures

by: Jennifer Lovett Herbranson

*WARNING: Foul Words Ahead*

Ok, so I’m one of those who started writing the minute she could scribble with crayons. My father kept the first story I ever wrote. In the seventh grade, I wrote a travel story with a friend of mine in Spanish class. By college, I knew I wanted to be a writer, so I took two courses: Creative Writing Fiction and Creative Writing Poetry. Both were epic disasters.

My poetry teacher told me I’d spent too much time reading the British Romantics. He was probably right. My fiction teacher told me my story didn’t make any sense. Rejection is part of the business, right? Well, it still sucks. But there is something to be learned from every disaster.

  • Crappy teachers can motivate you. When my poetry professor called my poems angsty crap pieces and told me I’d never have a future in writing, I hung my head in shame. Yes, he said this in a class full of edgy poets on their way to Pulitzer Prizes and probably some meth addictions. Eventually, I raised my eyebrows, got pissed and decided to pay attention to what he did like. I will forever hate the tatted up, pierced girl with long black hair and willowy skirts whose poetry oozed from the page in mid-90s Alanis Morrisette stanzas that he loved oh so much. (probably because I’m jealous)
  • Learn what you can. Discard the rest.  My prof hated my poetry. Did I say that already? It was full of trite clichés better suited for John Keats’ garden and British tea time. Under his glaring eye of disapproval, I learned how to write about love and pain in a modern way. That modern way included creative ways to describe action with as few words as possible. I did eventually write something that made its way into the annual university poetry anthology. It was called, “Fuck This.” Guess I showed him.
  • Advice should be taken with a grain of salt. For whatever reason, my fiction teacher never taught us how to plot. It was a semester-long course on writing fiction and the man, a New York Times bestseller, never taught the elements of the novel. This guy told me my novel wasn’t complete. Well, genius, you only asked for one chapter. This was an early lesson for me because writers are bombarded with advice, counsel and wisdom on a subject that is, at its core, creative. Take what you can use and move on.
  • Be badass. I’m on a Cobra Kai kick lately (What?! You haven’t seen the series on YouTube?! 100% on Rotten Tomatoes!!!), and being badass is the central theme of the new Cobra Kai. I could have easily melted into a puddle of nasty poo after my poetry and fiction teachers so blasély dismissed me. But no. I stood up. I schwacked their hoity toity idea of what a writer was supposed to be. and I kept going. Being badass means you stand up for what you want.

You KNOW you want to be a writer. So be one. Don’t let anyone get you down. Ever. Take what you can from the disasters because the best lessons are learned from failure. Then drop it. Move on. Be badass. No Mercy Bitches!


Jennifer Lovette Herbranson

Jennifer Lovett Herbranson is the founder of Writer Nation, a podcast and Facebook group dedicated to helping writers market their work. With 17 years communications experience, she regularly writes on social media, internet marketing and face-to-face publicity. She currently lives in South Korea and travels around Asia for fun. You can find her on her WebsiteFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest: @jennylovett