How Success Blinds Us

For every success story, there are a plenitude of failures you never hear about.

I’ve been reading a few essays recently on survivor bias, (including a blogpost I can’t find), and they’ve reminded me that if I only read published work, I’m not seeing the failures.

I need to read unpublished work to grow: I need to see the people on my level, struggling with the things I’m struggling with.

Why Should I Read Unpublished Manuscripts?

  • It’s easier to recognize flaws in other people’s work – things I just read right past in my own work, stands out and screams in other people’s work
  • It’s easier to figure out how to fix other people’s work
  • I can watch how they fix those issues and learn to apply it to my own writing

Seeing polished writing that’s already been found worthy and published is hard.

  • Sometimes I think, how can I get there?
  • Sometimes I think, my writing is just as good!
  • But it’s hard to see the steps between where I am and where they are.

When all you see are the finish, polished drafts, it can be easy to think that the people you read are just talented. It can be easy to dismiss how much work, effort, and skill went into that novel. As Dr. Nerdlove says, we’re just seeing their highlight reel.

Luckily, there are peers all over the internet, you just have to be willing to share. Share your novel, share your insight, and share your time

Are you part of a writer’s support group? Do you have critique partners you can trust to push you and help you grow?

Don’t be afraid to move on if a group isn’t helping you grow the way you feel is right.


  1. I love your idea of reading more unpublished manuscripts. I’ve got an author friend whose first book I really loved that has asked me to beta his new manuscript, and I’m really excited. I think you’re right that it’ll help me see the flaws in my own writing as well as appreciate the process. And hey, if I can help, that’s a huge plus!

    I’m also trying to read primarily self-published novels right now. Not only does it help the indie industry, but I feel like I’m getting a perspective on polished writing that the traditional industry either deemed too risky or passed over for whatever reason. . .

    Great post as usual. I always appreciate your perspective on these things. 😊

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I read someone else suggesting it, and I’ve beta read for others before.

      It made me realize HOW much I got out of it. And helped explain why READING my own writing instead of editing it gave me such a different perspective — ie the perspective that beta readers have.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. “Don’t be afraid to move on if a group isn’t helping you grow the way you feel is right.” This, this, THIS! Crit groups are finite prospects. Ideally, I think, you enter as the weak person of the group, grow, and then move on. I gained SO much from the first two crit groups I was in and almost nothing from the last two. Thanks, as always, for sharing, Sis.

    Liked by 1 person

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s