Why I was failing as a writer

Beatriz Freitas
3 min readNov 29, 2023

The story of how I set myself up for failure

Measureless Sea — Photo by Tim Stief on Unsplash

About two years ago, I started writing, and so far, I’ve published 8 stories, all of which I am truly proud of. Writing is an intricate and tough job, tougher than I imagined, but I discovered it to be incredibly joyful. Writing stories and articles open doors for creativity and subjectivity, allowing us to be inspired to embrace different points of view.

However, I fell out of love as quickly as I had fallen into it, and after only a few months of writing for Medium, I stopped. At first, I thought it was because I was busy and already juggling so much. But saying that I was occupied, tired, or stressed were only excuses to cover the true reason why I was demotivated.

I stopped writing because I was convinced that I wasn't good at it, no matter how supportive my friends and family were. If I was as good as they kept saying, why wasn't I successful? Why wasn't I making more money? Why didn't I have more followers? Why didn't more publications want to share my story?

In my perception, I was failing. I was failing because, in one year, I’ve managed to: earn a little less than $50, gain 70 followers, and collaborate with 2 publications. There are probably some writers here that could accomplish all that in a day. So, according to my numbers, I was failing.

Because numbers don’t lie, right? Wrong. They do. Because numbers are a simplified way to convert success into a quantitative measure. What my statistics failed to show was how long it took to write those articles. How much research and analysis I did. How much effort I put into them. How happy I was to write them. How proud I was of the end result. How some people really enjoyed them. How some people even commented on them, sharing their perspectives and knowledge. Those same numbers I was so badly relying on to assure myself that I was good — perhaps not truly good, but good enough to keep trying — weren’t what I was excepting. And so, by some cartesian and unrealistic standard, I was failing.

But "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger", right? Wrong. My lack of success led me to think that, perhaps, writing was not for me. And so, I gave up completely. It took me nearly 6 months (half the time I’ve been writing for) to actually realize that I wasn’t bad — perhaps not truly bad, just not bad enough to quit. In some ways, non-numerical ways, I was successful.

My definition of success couldn't be measured by how much I had capitalized on my stories. Or how many times my articles were visualized, or how many claps I received. My success couldn’t be numbered. My success was the feeling I had every time I went back and read my published stories or read a comment someone left in the section below. My success was qualified by joy and pride, something we often don’t take into account when doing anything in life, especially work.

I wasn’t failing. On the contrary, I was succeeding. My perspectives were just distorted, twisted, and upside down.



Beatriz Freitas

Brazilian. Fourth-year medical student. Love arts and social science.