Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Keys of Writing Success -- Jump up

Hi folks, This is the last in my series about the keys to writing success. I'm skipping the obvious keys like a good attitude, overflowing confidence, tenacious spirit, hard working, self-educating, a big time reader, loner ability, a happy reviser, works well with criticism, and a team builder.

My last key to writing success is something I call "jump up."  Ask yourself have you set the bar where you want it or have you placed the bar where you think you can reach. I hope that you consider placing the bar high and begin jumping up to that bar. Expecting more yourself is important.  If you have a little dialogue of "what if:"or if "only playing" in the background of your success stories, try some course changing. Why not jump up to what if or if only?  Why not try the improbable?

This is a little thought exercise I like to play. Once a person stood at the edge of the sea.  This was before anyone had ever thought to cross to this sea in a boat. I imagine that the feeling of seeing beyond that faroff horizon. I imagine how scary it is to go out there. I imagine how hard it is to get anyone to listen to that desire to go to the sea's horizon. I imagine that  many might say that is just not the way to go. They say: We don't see anything interesting or exciting over that horizon. Why persue such a dull prospect and waste of time?"No one has their eye on that horizon. Then I imagine building the boat and sailing away.  I know regardless of the outcome I have made the right choice.

Keep after your unique horizon. Don't stop. Let the improbable stretch you. Don't be afraid to go it alone. Go outside of the place of comfort. Try some great expectations. Jump up.

Hope this helps. Next week I'm going to begin a new series called "Writer Myths."

Now it is time for this week's doodle:

Here is a quote to tuck in your pocket this week.

Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” Maya Angelou

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Keys to Writing Success -- Failure

Hi folks, I'm continuing my series about the key to writing success. I'm skipping the obvious keys like a good attitude, overflowing confidence, tenacious spirit, hard working, self-educating, a big time reader, loner ability, a happy reviser, works well with criticism, and a team builder.

I had the opportunity to hear poet Carrie Fountain speak at a Writer's League of Texas Thursday meeting.  And she discussed failure as a necessary skill for any writer.  Ah, I thought, failure is one of the keys. Many recognize this. David Bayles' book Art & Fear also wraps around the idea of making ordinary art and explores why art doesn't get made, touching on what makes artists give up or fail.

So let's dive into to failure. You must learn how to fail with excellence. This is the bottom line. I mean everyone is all about success in America. Be number one, be the best, first is best, yes, the rhetoric has been stamped into us since we could toddle across the floor.

This is what you must examine: if failure is breeding anxiety, producing tears or sending you to bed with a huge pillow to hug, if failure is making you put away projects, if failure is getting into your head and messing with the work, if failure is keeping your from taking risks, if failure is freezing you out with blaming, fear or anger, you need to work on failing. Failure should work for you and not against you. 

So here are some strategies to help you fail with grace. Here is a handy video to watch from Angela Lee Duckworth, Ph. D., speaking about the need for grit to find lasting success. Failure digs grit into the fabric of your soul. A very good thing. When you fail, celebrate the new grit you have acquired.

Use failure. Failure is more information about your weaknesses.  When you fail, you now have data about your weaknesses. It may take some time to figure out what to do with data but with applied study you will find ways to make course corrections to reach you specific goals. Disconnect your value as a human being from your failure.

Knocking of all negativism and framing failure in a positive light will help too. Accepting being less than you wanted in a gracious manner is more that you can add to your failing practice. Failure is a great reason to be kind to yourself. Failure is a reason to reach out and get more support. Think about what you can do to improve how your fail.

I want you to get excited about how you are going to handle the next time you fail. Hope this speaks to you and helps you unlock what you are truly capable of doing. Seize the day!
This week's doodle is called: "Storm".

This week's quote come from someone working on a failure strategy.

"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.” Thomas Edison 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Keys of Writing Success -- Imagination

Hi folks, ready to unlock the door to writing success? I'm skipping the obvious keys like a good attitude, overflowing confidence, tenacious spirit, hard working, self-educating, a big time reader, loner ability, a happy reviser, works well with criticism, and a team builder.

I was chatting about my last dream with an acquaintance -- the one where I'm riding a metal wheeled bike in a velodrome in an Olympic-like setting -- in my dream my bike can also fly a bit. I'm trying to catch this serial killer who is not out to kill me but most possibly Lance Armstrong -- this time. The person looked at me and with all sincerity said, "Oh, I wish I had dreams like that."  My imagination is all slippy and flexible.  I've spent most of my life spending a little time dreaming awake and then putting that on the page. One fun perk is a very active dream life. Oh, yeah.

There is some stuff you can do to get your imagination flying. Active outsider art is one way. My mom and dad had a huge handle on how to foster the imagination. All the arts were encouraged at home but in very non-structured free formed ways. We didn't join a club to play ball or take classes to sew clothes. It was very much an outsider's art experience. Check out the American Visionary Art Museum for ideas. I really need to visit Baltimore some time. My friend and author Faith Pray is also very good with letting the art grow. Check out her Sacred Dirt blog.  And a last example, you can pretend to be some character and your friends do the same, and how much fun is that?  My friend and author Katherine Grace Bond occasionally puts on creative play classes for adults. Such play will add jazz to your writing. Add outsider art to your life.

You need to mix active stuff with some passive stuff. Go stare at some art - local gallery, museum, just hang out at any artist's studio, check out a movie or play or opera, go to a concert, whatev. I mean soak it in. I have fab memories of gathering with friends in front of laser light shows and just listening to the Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon.  They still do this in Houston at the science museum. I also like that Sketching Gallery at the Getty. I've been there with my family several times.  You can soak in some awesome inspiration anywhere with a  clear sky this weekend. We are in the middle of Perseid meteor shower. Take your favorite music and watch the biggest show on Earth.   (Hint the more senses you involve the better the imagination juice...)

So one big key to success is your BIG IMAGINATION.  Don't let anyone get your down because your head is often in the clouds and you play like a kid. Do not be moved by folks who tell you to be more serious.  See you next week with another key. :)

So here's the doodle: "Cup on post."

I am imagination. I can see what the eyes cannot see. I can hear what the ears cannot hear. I can feel what the heart cannot feel.  Peter Nivio Zarlenga

Saturday, August 04, 2012

The Keys of Writing Success -- Flaws

Hi folks, It's time for the summer dial back.  I'm going to skip the obvious keys like a good attitude, overflowing confidence, tenacious spirit,  hard working, self-educating, a big time reader,  loner ability, a happy reviser, works well with criticism, and a team builder. 

This is a little nugget to tuck in your pocket this week.  Most writers are fearful and have times of self doubt. They have grandiose ideas about their work and feel substandard work is genius.  They don't always listen to good advice and wreck entire projects.  At times, they feel like their writing is absolute crap or worse derivative.

They moan and groan about the inability to finish their work, and yet they drive family members and friends crazy with their intense focus. They become blocked, distracted, and choked in cyclical turns. They face pricks of professional jealousy and  find themselves in valleys of despond because they just aren't good enough. They can be totally ridiculous and childish when confronted with critisim. They take wrong turns and end up on dead end streets. They backtrack a lot.

So here is the key -- you are flawed and  you will create a work that will be flawed. A good writer does not allow perfectionism to take them out.  The flaws within the matrix of your work bring it character, flavor and humanity. Yeah, tuck that in your pocket and keep it there.

I will be back next week with another key. Keep working! 

The doodle this week is called: "Peeps."

Thiw quote will keep you going this week.

“I am not an angel,' I asserted; 'and I will not be one till I die: I will be myself. Mr. Rochester, you must neither expect nor exact anything celestial of me - for you will not get it, any more than I shall get it of you: which I do not at all anticipate.” ― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre