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 


Vijaya said...

Great post and quote, Molly. You already know how many thousands of failures I've gone through. Each one has taught me *something*

MollyMom103 said...

Yes, failure is something I'm working on. I let it get me down, but I think I've gotten better with the grace of it.

Janet Lee Carey said...

I always love reading your blog, Molly. This post speaks to me this week. Loved the line, "Disconnect your value as a human being from your failure."

I don't know where I got the idea that I have to be a good writer to be a good human being -- to be someone of value. I know I want my stories to be a gift to others, but after that, I need to let it go.
Humility is the word this week. So, as usual, Ms. Molly genius, you speak right to where I am.


MollyMom103 said...

Hi Janet, Yes, I tangle who I am with what I want some. Isnt' that sort of the writer's journey? We are forever answering these questions. It's confusing because what I want is connected to who am, it just doesn't define who I am.

It's hard to put into words what I feel about humility. I struggle with want. I want my stories to be out there to the point I can't think about it without tears. The doors haven't opened the way I dream of them opening -- now that is rubbing the grit of humility into me. Then I have to be brave and pick up the pen again, try something else that may fail too.
I cling to learning how to fail with grace, learning to live with the struggle and being thankful that I have this active imagination that so hungers to capture the essense of who we are and what we want. Peace filters in as I face another blank page with my soul ready to try again.