Friday, January 25, 2013

Libby Heily Guest Post: Best Advice I Ever Received

Best Advice I Ever Received

Oddly enough, the best writing advice I ever received came from my friend Dylan, who is not a writer. Dylan is an actor, yoga instructor, and jack of all trades. We attended Longwood University together as theatre majors. Dylan was a brilliant student. He was a Resident Assistant, on an honor board, president of our theatre fraternity, a member of the dance company, he was in most of the plays (usually as a lead), and was an honor student. He just seemed to excel at everything he tried.

One day, maybe over lunch or a beer (who can remember that far back?), I asked Dylan about how he was able to try so many things and be good at them. He laughed and glanced over at me with a glimmer in his eye (did I mention Dylan is also ridiculously good looking and his eyes often twinkle? - yeah, true story) and said, “I don't know how much I succeed. I just don't care if I fail.”

I was thunderstruck. In college, most of my decisions were informed by fear. The thought of failure kept me up at nights. It sent me into panic mode. As a result, I really hadn't accomplished much.

The change in me wasn't immediate, change hardly ever is. But I did take Dylan's words to heart. I started to accept that failure would happen. Sure, I could try a new accent for dialects class, and I would probably get it wrong the first time, but if I kept trying I would at least get better. Sure, I could write a play and it might get laughed off campus, but if I don't write the play, it would never be produced. This is around the time I grew to love Eugene O'Neill. He was fearless in his experimentation. I don't know if he was personally not afraid to fail, but his failures never seemed to slow down his writing.

Here's what I found, the fear never really leaves you. Nobody wants to fail. Failure hurts. But when you let go and accept that you will sometimes fail, you open yourself up to do so much more. Failure is okay. Failure is learning. Pick yourself back up and try again, and your second attempt will be so much better.

Dylan's advice did not just help me in writing, it helped me in life. To him, it was probably something he just said and quickly forgot about. Funny how that happens.

Libby Heily is the author of recently released Tough Girl (which if I have not already reviewed when this posts, I will be reviewing soon), Fourth Degree Freedom (a book of short stories that I reviewed in December of 2011) and Twist Turn and Burn. She is also a very awesome person! I hope you enjoyed this guest post.


  1. That is some smart advice. If you're not worried about failure, it removes the pressure.

  2. I think as long as we go after what we want, we can't fail. I think we succeed just by doing it.

  3. Alex, you totally hit it on the head!

    M Pax - you're absolutely right! We can't let fear stop us from chasing our dreams.

    Libby - thanks for dropping in!


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