Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Learning to Fall

Before I found the joy of writing, I thought I wanted to become an actress. It sounded like a great idea at the time: dressing up in cool costumes, playing someone else, bringing a story to life. So my mum sent me to Speech and Drama classes.

Not so much fun. Where were the cool costumes? What's this boring play? You want me to learn how many lines?

Then I scored a part in Androcles and the Lion. I played a woman who comes across a lion while wandering in the forest. My role included running away and fainting on stage. It sounded simple enough, but to my surprise, I needed to learn to fall down. It's not a matter of just falling. I needed to make sure I didn't injure myself.

I think writers need to learn to fall as well. When I say 'fall' I mean things like getting rejections, not writing a perfect first draft, getting bad reviews, not connecting the story that's in your head with the one you've written on paper etc. There are plenty of ways we can fall. Falling is an inevitable part of the writing process and I think it's better to learn to fall before we try to fly.

How does a writer learn to fall?
First, I think it's important to know it happens and it's normal. You aren't a failed writer if you make mistakes, if your piece isn't perfect, if your favourite agent rejects your story.

Listening to your fear of failure is the one sure way to fail. So arm yourself against it. Ask yourself how much you want the goals you've set yourself. When I did this, my answer was simple. A writing career is so important to me that I'm willing to put in the long hours and the hard work. I'm willing to deal with all the ups and downs.

Here are some other truths you should know:
  • Yes, rejections happen to the best of us.
  • No, there is no such thing as an overnight success.
  • No, the writing path isn't an easy one.
  • Yes, we make ourselves vulnerable when we throw ourselves into our stories and share what we've written.  
  • Yes, it's scary.
  • Yes, it's wonderful.
  • Yes, we all have a choice. When we fall down, we can either give up, or we can get up, dust ourselves off and keep writing.
If I don't chase my dreams, I'll go nowhere. If I do chase the dreams, then I might fall, but here's something else to remember: It's not only about the destination. The true joy is in the journey.

How have you learnt to overcome the falls--not just as a writer, but in any part of your life?
--


This post was written as part of the Insecure Writers' Support Group.

Thank you: A huge thank you to J.C. Martin. I won an Oracle swag pack during her fabulous mystery tour which revealed the cover design for her novel due for release in July.

Thank you also to Debbie Johansson for the Kreativ Blogger Award.

55 comments:

  1. Great post... and it's true that sometimes we need to remind ourselves of these.... and stop beating ourselves up when things do fail.

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  2. I'm glad I found you this morning. What a wonderful reminder.

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  3. Always a great post! Written from your heart...Thank you again.

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  4. It takes perserverance and hardwork to follow your dream. When you fall you need to pick yourself back up and carry on, even if your path looks gloomy, because light could just be round the next bend...

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  5. I so look forward to your posts, Lynda; they're always inspiring and helpful. For me, I keep reminding myself that this is what I do. Some people are born to be doctors; some, lawyers or judges or even that smiling face whom you always seek out and go to at your favorite retailer. I was born to write. Why? Because nothing brings more contentment and joy than when I sit down at the keyboard and successfully punch out a scene and, ultimately, a story.

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  6. If we aren't failing at some point, that means we aren't getting better, either. Those with the greatest success also experience the most amount of failure.

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  7. I've definitely learned to fall - to the point where it doesn't bother me anymore!

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  8. oh, Lynda, this must be the creepiest pic you've ever used to illustrate your post! I have a phobia of hair and plasters....

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  9. The picture creeped me out too. I agree we will fall down. Whether or not we get back up makes all the difference.

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  10. I think I've learned to enjoy the journey a little more. I used to be focused solely on getting published (that meant a lot of running and tripping), but I'm much more content to take my time and craft a decent story now. I'll probably still fall down when I start querying again, but I'm hoping I'll know how to roll with it better.

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  11. That's a great post!

    Yes, I've fallen and got up and fallen and got up....

    I agree it's how you learn things and if you follow your passion you will always find the strength to get up.

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  12. This is exactly what I need to hear today. Thank you :-)
    Yes, writers do throw themselves out there, and rejection can really hurt. Problem is, the bad reviews are the ones we remember and we forget the good ones (which far out-number the bad)

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  13. Great post. Very wise and honest. And you're right, just knowing that falling happens sometimes but that we can get up and shake it off will get us through the rough times.

    Sarah Allen
    (my creative writing blog)

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  14. Really great post, Lynda. You definitely hit the nail on the head here. Falling is inevitable, but I think being prepared and also how we choose to get back up makes or breaks us as writers. :)

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  15. I really needed this post today! Thank you! Definitely going to bookmark this one.

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  16. We can't find success without failure.
    I like these last lines: the true joy is in the journey.
    Thanks for your wisdom. :)

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  17. I love your use of bullet points! My mind sees life in bullet points. Great post. I am learning to fall for sure.

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  18. You know what this reminds me of? Back in college, I took a self-defense class where we had to learn how to fall. You know, without the instinct to catch ourselves and cause more damage. It goes hand-in-hand with writing, doesn't it? Great post! :)

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  19. Very good advice,I love the way you write! Blessings Jane

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  20. Great post. If we don't fall we cannot improve.

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  21. Still learning :)

    This is a great post and it has definitely made me square my shoulders.

    I remember everyone telling me that when it came to publishing that the 'no' is always guaranteed so anything that comes after that should be viewed as steps forward, even getting in the position to get a 'no' (finished draft, first queries etc.) is definitely something achieved and to learn from.

    Thank you for sharing this. It's a wonderful post :)

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  22. lol, because the previous pic of my hubby's knee with a band-aid on it creeped some people out, I changed the image to one I've used before... Hope it's less creepy hehe.

    DRC, well said.

    Alyssia, I totally agree with you. I'm the same. There truly is joy in simply writing.

    Laura, yep, it doesn't bother me anymore either.

    Dezzy, I hope you and Tonja prefer this pic more ;)

    Luanne, it's easy to fall into the trap of focussing only on publishing. I know I'm guilty of that. I have to remind myself how much I love the journey.

    Susan, yes, those bad reviews can sting. Many writers advise not to read reviews at all for that reason.

    Jessie, yeah, I think in bullet points. Maybe that's why I like outlining so much ;)

    Carrie, oh! Another great example of needing to learn to fall! Good one.

    Patricia, I totally agree--getting the 'no' means you've come a long way. Further than most in fact.

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  23. Ohhhh... if this isn't just what I needed...

    Thanks for this post. I love it. I'm so grateful for the past year I've had. I've had an amazing querying run, but filled with rejections on all my submissions. It's great though--I needed it. I needed to learn how to take rejection and move on. I think it's essential for every writer. :D

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  24. I've found that if I remind myself I will write no matter what because I love it. And it's ok to cry when a rejection arrives because after all it is a huge dream I'm chasing.
    Off to fall some more...
    Xx

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  25. I have a notebook that says on the front "I walk. I fall down. I keep dancing." Falling is part of the process--just have to ignore the bruises (and possible embarrassment) and keep on moving . . .

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  26. Your words are timely. THank you for this post.

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  27. Excellent truths we all need to remember. Thanks for the reminder.

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  28. I love your post. I'm still in the process of writing my first novel, but much as I try to brace myself for the reality of rejection, I think I will take it hard. My work, and I know others feel the same, is so much of my heart and soul that it will feel like I'M being rejected. I'm just trying to learn to be objective about it.

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  29. All I can say is, every time I fall, I skin my knee and it bleeds, but then it scabs up and turns into scar tissue so that the next time I fall, the skin on my knees is tougher and I don't get hurt as easily. Multiply that times 150 and I'm getting pretty darn tough!!

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  30. It's true, rejection happens to everyone...still, I've never been a fan! If all goes according to plan (so, only a slight chance of this) I plan to start querying this summer when I'm out of school so I can focus on all that, and I'm already trying to prepare myself for the rejection.
    And that's interesting you wanted to be an actress!

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  31. So I'll admit that I didn't read all the comments before this one so someone has probably said this already, but here it is again from me:

    I appreciated this post a lot because I tend to shy away from the possibility of failure. I am partially too proud to risk rejection, and partially a coward who would rather THINK that she COULD have done something had she tried than KNOW that she couldn't. So thanks for telling us to take a chance. It's not a new idea, per se, but it's an interesting angle and something it never hurts to be reminded of :)

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  32. Great advice, and it's advice that many people will forget once they get that first rejection. I always do my best to put another perspective on any failing that I have - the usual one is that it's a learning experience and 'Im not worse off than what I was'/

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  33. I like your list of truths.

    Also, I played Androcles in an elementary school performance.

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  34. A great post to read in the morning, it has boosted my morale and encouraged me to see my MS with new eyes (I can give it one more polish and make it shine.)

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  35. Wonderful words of wisdom! Thanks. Often the most successful people are also the ones who fall the most, they just jump back up quicker. :)

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  36. Lovely post! I like how you liken writing to learning how to fall. So true.

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  37. thank you for these insights! I can learn a lot from every experience!

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  38. When I was a kid I wanted to grow up to be a Ghostbuster...I still kinda do. But writing isn't bad either;)

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  39. We do have to learn to keep standing. Even once an agent is found and/or a publisher, there are still many downs. I know several writers who were dropped and had to start over. Know several who got agents, but never sold their ms. So, we have to be ready that these things may happen to us.

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  40. Your posts are becoming more and more layered, Lynnie. Forever, your avatar has been a flower. I feel like I am now seeing you truly bloom.

    This post was very helpful and meaningful for me.

    Thank you.

    -Suze

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  41. Excellent analogy. My sister did a lot of acting so I can relate.

    I am trying to learn to fall with grace. I'm okay with rejections, but the critiques are harder.

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  42. When I was younger I fell hard, but I still managed to get up and dust myself off. Nowadays I get up faster. This is both in writing and in other parts of my life.

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  43. Morgan, yep, and it certainly gets easier too.

    Michelle, of course. It's all part of the journey.

    Golden, ha, I love that quote.

    Honey, I promise it gets easier.

    Nancy, yay for rhino skin!

    Writing Hour, good luck with your querying. Re acting, it was a great way of getting over my acute shyness too.

    Raz, ahhaha yep, that was me for a long time too.(It used to drive my mum crazy when I got my exam results back from school hehehe).

    Jamie, very true, but it does get easier.

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  44. Roger, How cool! I think it would have been more fun as an elementary school performance.

    Rachna, that's awesome to hear.

    Mark, yeah, but Ghostbusters are cool ;)

    Mary, it's a worry isn't it. Nothing is guaranteed.

    Suze, no pressure ;) I really appreciate your words. Hugs.

    Theresa, I think of critiques as learning experiences. Reviews are another story, though. Some of those can get mean because of the anonymity of the internet.

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  45. You're right, Linda -- you need to literally learn how to fall when you're writing -- be prepared for rejections, for all the speed bumps along the way. When I was querying, I prepared myself for the fall (had my stunt mats hidden at the edge of the stage, if you will) by having more queries ready to go if a rejection came in, so I could just hit send. I think we need techniques like that for every stage.

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  46. Awesome post. Contains great advice for all writers, new or seasoned professionals. I think we need to remember to not beat ourselves up when things go wrong. It's okay to make mistakes. It's okay to fall.

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  47. Perfect timing for this post. Fortunately in this case, the scars you will help make you a stronger writer, especially if you embrace them and let them challenge you. Too bad I can't say the same for the scars on my knees from when I was a kid. ;)

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  48. I've fallen down and gone BOOM quite a few times, yep. All necessary trips. :) I would've like to have seen you trip and fall as you were running away and fainting onstage!!

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  49. Thanks for putting this together. I believe that rising again after failing is testament to not only writing, but the true heart of all that is good in being human.

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  50. Everytime I fail. I get right back up and try again, and again, and again.

    I'm extremely stubborn and if things aren't working, I will make it work by brute force if needed.

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  51. A wonderful post. The problem is we are in a hurry to reach the destination that we don't actually enjoy the journey. So when we fall - we just get up and go again.

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  52. Hi Lynda,

    You would've made a beautiful actress.

    Great inspirational post.

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  53. I got my share of rejection before I turned those No's into my own Yes :-D And through those challenges I learned a lot about myself.

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  54. Great post, Lynda!

    I haven't really even started to query my work, as most of it isn't nearly ready. I did get one rejection after somebody requested some pages, but it was a really nice and constructive (and flattering) rejection, so I guess I'm calling it a great experience!

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  55. Amie, stunt mats! I didn't have any of those... I feel cheated! I do like the idea of having preprepared queries in case of rejection.

    Stina, maybe you have stronger knees now? ;)

    Carol, haha I'll never forget the first few acting falls I had to make... yay for bruised hip bones. ;)

    Shockgrubz, well said.

    Dwei, That's a good attitude when it comes to writing.

    Romance, it's a shame I was terrible at learning my lines. hehehe.

    Trisha, I love those rejections the most.

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