Marian Keyes' brilliant advice on how to deal with failure will inspire you to keep going

The bestselling author shares her words of wisdom for those facing obstacles in love, life or work.

Marian Keyes has some solid advice for people who are stuck in a rut – and it may just be wise words you need today.

We can all shy away from difficult periods and choices in our lives, but according to Marian Keyes, we need to face our fears head on, even if we feel “terrified” to do so.

The author, 56, whose humorous, heartfelt writing and vast collection of bestselling novels have cemented her as one of the UK’s most-loved literary stars, shared a photograph on Instagram with an important message.

Alongside the photo of a beautifully illustrated Frida Kahlo notebook, she wrote, ‘This BEAUTIFUL Frida notebook was given to me on Wednesday by my beloved friend Roisin Ingle, for ‘ideas for my new book’. So! I’ve made a start!

A photo posted by on

‘I’ve a couple of ideas knocking around but with both of them I’m frightened that I’m not talented or brave enough to carry them off. This is NOT a transparent plea for praise! I simply want to talk about limitations.

‘No-one can know their limitations until they hit them - and at that point they might be months deep in a project, 93% of the way up a mountain, 12 years into a marriage. And THEN what happens?

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‘A salvage operation is what happens. SOMETIMES a bodge job can pull things together, making the outcome acceptable if not ideal. Sometimes waiting things out gives unexpected insight, energy, a fresh perspective. And sometimes we’ve no choice but to give up on it: to fail. Which we - at least I - am terrified by.

‘But the only way to avoid failure is to play it safe and I don’t want to do that either. So! I’m going to *try* to write the daunting, interesting book! Oh yes, I’m all gung-ho right now, showing off on Instagram, pretending I’m wise, but it will be a challenge every new day. We’ll see what unfolds…’

Marian has been previously very open about her mental health struggles, revealing that in 2010, while writing The Mystery of Mercy Close, Marian found herself battling depression so severe that she felt as if she was “living in hell”.

After sharing her experience online with fans, Marian’s candid comments on mental health went viral, much to the author’s surprise.

“It was a very sudden descent into the most horrific state of mind. I knew I couldn’t write my newsletter because I was in such a state of extreme fear was how it mostly got me,” she explained to the Irish Sun.

"I wrote a three line thing on my website saying ‘I’m suffering from a bout of depression, I can’t sleep and I can’t eat and I’ll be back with you soon’.

“It blew up, this huge thing. I’m obviously naive as I didn’t think anyone would be bothered. The story was due to be on the six o’clock news. The idea it would be on the news seemed insane.”

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It was during this time that Marian faced her biggest professional challenge; to continue writing a novel when her debilitating depression made even getting out of bed in the morning a challenge.

“I have so many version of this book [The Mystery of Mercy Close] because I had a bad bout of mental health that went on when I was writing it,” she said.

“I had gaps that went on for months when I wrote nothing. For long spells during it I thought I wouldn’t be able to finish it.

“It demonstrates eventually how projects can get finished.”

Lauren Hughes
Lauren Hughes

Lauren is deputy editor at woman& in the UK and became a journalist mainly because she enjoys being nosy. With a background in features journalism, Lauren has worked on the woman&home brand for four years. Before woman&home Lauren worked across a variety of women's lifestyle titles, including GoodTo, Woman's Own, and Woman magazine. After starting out working for a local paper in Yorkshire, her journalism career took her to Bristol where she hunted out stories for national papers and magazines at Medavia news agency, before landing a job in London working as a lifestyle assistant.

Lauren loves helping people share their stories, bringing experiences to life online, honing her interview techniques with everyone from authors to celebrities, headteachers to local heroes. As well as having a good nose for a story, Lauren has a passion for the English language and years of experience optimizing digital content to reach the widest audience possible. During her time at w&h, Lauren has worked on big brand campaigns like the Amazing Women Awards and assisted in developing w&h expert-approved Buyer's Guides—the place to go if you're looking to splash out on an important purchase and want some trusted advice. In addition to her journalism career, Lauren also has a background in copywriting for prestigious brands such as Inhabit Hotel, eco-development K'in in Tulum, social enterprise The Goldfinger Factory and leading London architect Holland Harvey, using language in all its glorious forms, from detailed guidebooks to snappy social content. 

A big fan of adventure, Lauren is also a keen travel writer and loves sharing tips on where to find the best places to eat, drink, and be merry off the beaten track. Lauren has written a series of travel guides for London hotels and loves sharing her insights into a destination's cultural and culinary offerings. If you need a recommendation on any UK destination, she's more than happy to help. At the weekend, you'll usually find her hanging out with her pet cat (or anyone else's pet she can get her hands on), escaping to the countryside, or devouring a good book. 

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