Wednesday, June 28, 2017

How do you deal with failure?

I'm baaack! Shannon and I had so much fun in sunny southern California at the SoCal Christian Writers Conference. It was a fabulous conference, and I highly recommend it. I taught a major track on spec fiction and Shannon taught the teen track. We connected with many old friends and made lots of new friends, too. If you have yet to find your way to a writer's conference, I hope you all get a chance someday. They are SO much fun.










And now, back to . . .





We are doing panels this summer, which means that each day we post one question and everyone answers it: Stephanie, Shannon, me, and all of you too!






How do you deal with failure?


Jill Williamson
I deal with failure in phases. My first reaction is often quite negative. My feelings are hurt. But once I get over that, I rise up with determination and get back to it. That's me in a nutshell.

Once I understood how rejections worked, I got it into my head that I'd likely receive dozens of rejections before ever getting an acceptance letter. So I decided that I'd probably be rejected at least fifty times before I ever sold anything. So when those rejections started rolling in, I celebrated them.

It worked quite well.

I think, for me, it's all about planning. I don't like surprises, so when I convinced myself to expect rejections, I wasn't as surprised by them as I might have been had I spent the weeks of waiting daydreaming about acceptance letters and contracts and my book in stores. But when I am surprised by a rejection or what I perceive as failure, that can really shock me.

It's hard to put your work out there. You created something and to share it is to make yourself vulnerable. That's part of the job. We all have to do it, whether we chase after traditional publishing or self-publish. We will receive rejections. People will say no to publishing our stories. And readers will give us one-star reviews and crush our hearts. It takes practice to grow thick skin so all of that doesn't hurt so badly.

Having hurt feelings and being frustrated . . . those were the negative sides of how I dealt with failure. But I am a tenacious person. I don't give up. So every single rejection made me all the more determined to succeed. When you feel like you're failing, don't quit. Stick with it. Try not to take it personally. Also, know that every writer deals with this. You are not alone.


Shannon Dittemore
I give myself permission to be disappointed and then I try something else. We’re afraid of failure. Our culture teaches us to be afraid of it. We publicly shame mistakes. We laugh at people who fall and we splash it all over social media. But the truth is, failure means you tried. Failure means you took a risk. Failure means you pushed yourself out of the status quo and poured effort into a task that had no guarantee of succeeding. Like every hero you’ve ever read about. We need to be brave, you guys. We need to punch fear in the face and realize that failure is nothing to be afraid of. In fact, if we failed more often, I bet we’d succeed more often. Think about it.



Stephanie Morrill
Can I just say “ditto” to Shan’s words?

I try to recognize failure and put a name on it and what I’m feeling. “I’m feeling sad because I thought this would go well and it failed. I’m angry about this.” That sort of thing. And then usually I allow myself a daymaybe two, if it’s a really big oneto wallow and feel hurt. Then it’s time to get back to writing.






What about you guys? How do you deal with failure?


20 comments:

  1. I just got back from my county 4-H fair, so I'm just now with it. Fair is tiring!
    In school this year I learned something that goes with what Mrs. Dittemore said. It's an acronym, FAIL. Which means:
    First
    Attempt
    In
    Learning
    I think this is a great acronym because it is so right. If you don't take risks, if you don't push harder, you won't get there, but if you give up and don't try, you will certainly not get there.

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    1. Cool. I love that acronym! It also works as Fiftieth Attempt In Learning, because I tend to need lots of room for mistakes. :p
      Thanks for sharing.

      -Ann

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    2. Love that, Maggie! <3 Yours is good too, Ann. I love both of your glass-half-full outlooks.

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    3. I think I may have to use that acronym. You're completely right, Maggie. By not trying, you'll definitely never get anywhere, but failure leads to something learned. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Work input equals work output. God bless you! :)

      iviewrites.blogspot.com

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  2. I used to struggle as any sort of rejection, or feeling of falling short would drag me down for weeks. It got to the point I wanted to give up writing completely. Maybe I just wasn't cut out for it.

    Then one day I realized quitting was the only way I could fail. Rejection, not placing in a contest; silence during query stages, they were all stepping stones--an opportunity to push past disappointment and move forward. Having a heavy dose of stubbornness, rejection now tends to fire up my resolve to improve my writing, which is a good thing.

    Although I'd love to learn how to deal with success now. Just to be well-rounded. :)

    -Ann

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    1. *quitting was the only way I could fail* --Love this. You are brilliant, Ann! :-)

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    2. Ann, this is so well said. Very beautiful. And you're right. Quitting is failure. God bless you!

      iviewrites.blogspot.com

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    3. Thank you both! :)

      -Ann

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  3. Normally I take a break, start something new (it' a serious problem), and go get some ice cream. Distractions tend to be the best thing for me.

    thefloridsword.blogspot.com

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    Replies
    1. I do this too. Sort of waiting for my emotions to come back on line, like restarting a computer. And ice cream is always a plus. ;-)

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    2. Nothing is every wrong with ice cream. Especially chocolate ice cream. :)

      iviewrites.blogspot.com

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  4. I don't handle failure well. I tend to be the type of person who wants to get it right the first time. I want to be perfect at it the first time. It isn't a healthy mindset, that's for sure. It can only lead to a vicious cycle of feeling like a failure and giving up.

    But, turning it around, looking at failure as a reason try harder, is something I want to work on. I'm not always going to get it right. I put way too much pressure on myself.

    Like Ann said above, quitting is the only way to fail.

    God bless y'all.

    iviewrites.blogspot.com

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    1. This. I have the same problem. If I fail, it's because I didn't do my best, and I should have known that what I had given wasn't my best. Being a perfectionist is tough.

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    2. Yes, it is. Perfectionism can be a good thing, but a lot of times it can be the downfall of anyone who is a perfectionist. But hey, we can work through it and try again. :D <3

      iviewrites.blogspot.com

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    3. I know I have this issue too, sometimes perfectionism just freezes me up. We need to be kinder to ourselves. No one is perfect anyway.

      -Ann

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  5. I love seeing your pictures! What lucky students to have you fabulous ladies as teachers!

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  6. I usually allow myself to wallow for a bit, then maybe I go to the gym and hit a punching bag or do some yoga, and then I wake up the next morning, make some coffee, try to figure out where it all went wrong, and fix it. Sometimes the process is more messy, but that's how I usually do it.
    Bless you guys for this post. I needed it today, and Shannon's words really struck a chord with me. I think we all need to be okay with failing more. <3

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    1. Punching something sounds therapeutic. Have to remember that. :)

      -Ann

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  7. i usually crash and burn a story idea before anyone can read it, so usually i jump up and down with joy (as odd as it sounds, it works)

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  8. Define failure, to start with? Being rejected isn't failing if it turns out that in the long run that publishing house wouldn't have worked for you. A story fizzling out isn't failure if that means you now get to concentrate on another one that you really love.

    I like what Shannon said about trying, with the possibility of failing, being like every hero we've read about. The heroes in stories almost always try something and it doesn't work, at some point. The thing is, they tried. They didn't say "it doesn't concern us" or "oh, that's too hard" or "that would be a good thing to do if I could, but there's always the chance I can't". Not trying is the true failure.

    Which means that on days where you know you can work, and you should work, and you choose to be lazy instead, those are real failures. Which is kind of eye-opening --- instead of just being "wasted time", we can call it "a failed day", and I think that would be a motivation to have fewer of those. (In lazy days I'm not counting legitimate days of rest.) (Sez I, coming off one of those lazy days and determining to amend my life by finishing the Fellowship of the Ring this evening.)

    https://ofdreamsandswords.wordpress.com

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