Failure, Shame, and Faith

I’ve been thinking quite a bit failure. And shame. And the confidence to have the faith that your path is the right one for you.

Why do we sometimes feel ashamed of our accomplishments (or perhaps lack thereof) and not want to share them? This makes me sad, for anyone feeling that way, and frankly for myself too, since I have felt (and do feel) that way.

First, I would never, ever want anyone to feel they somehow weren’t measuring up – or indeed, that they had to in the first place. Because that’s often how I feel. And I confess I probably wouldn’t always recap my weeks accomplishments to my writers’ group if I wasn’t the one collecting said recaps. 😉

Second, why do we do that to ourselves? Measure ourselves against one another – even when we KNOW our journey is our own, our path isn’t the same as anyone else’s, etc, etc. And I say the etc, etc, because sometimes that’s how I hear the words too. Yes, I might know-but it doesn’t mean I don’t still compare myself anyway, despite my best intentions and efforts not to.

And finally, what do failure and shame mean, and are they necessarily a bad thing? Sure, I might not have gotten as many words as someone else. Maybe it was a crappy week. Maybe it’s been a crappy month. Maybe it’s a crappy book. But where is the line? Where does a failure become something we learn from and move forward, whereas other things / events shame us, holding us back? Why is it some failures / mistakes are easy to classify as “a learning experience” while others seem more like signs we’re doing the wrong thing / on the wrong path / making yet another mistake?

The short answer is that I don’t know. Although I suspect it has to do with how some so-called “truths” are easier to accept or buy-into because they somehow fit some inner narrative we’ve created, whether it’s a false narrative or not. Therefore, it’s easier for me to be ashamed of the fact that I’ve written a heck of a lot of books (10 at last count, I think) and I’m still un-agented and unpublished. Since I’m a Gemini, I simultaneously get to think of some of those books as the learning experiences (aka failures) they were.

It’s where one draws the line that gets me. Is it just time that helps me shift some experiences and creations into that “learning experience” category whereas others –rightly or wrongly–remain in the “still worth trying or I’m a failure if I give this up” category? I’m not sure. But I’m always trying to move forward and understand. And hopefully understanding failure doesn’t have to mean shame. Nor, I hope, does it have to mean comparison.

I am me. I’m doing the best that I can. Sometimes that’s better, sometimes that’s worse, but I’m still me.

What do you think?

Wishing you a great week of writing, and remembering (and valuing) who and what you are, no matter who or what anyone else is. 🙂

 

The Writer’s Best Friend: Yourself

March2013 005You’ve probably seen the saying or heard the advice that one of the best things you can be is your own best friend. For some reason, this phrase re-entered my life this week and has me pondering what that means when you’re a writer. Because let’s face it, when you’re in the middle of drafting, and sometimes on the dark, lonely days writing can create, you could darn well use a best friend!

So what does it mean if that best friend is you?

This week, I’ve been both struggling with a current WIP where I can’t seem to get a handle on the overall through-story (though I know lots of little bits and details), and I’ve been considering what my overall business plan is for the year in terms of managing and advancing my own career, and frankly, it leaves me a bit nervous.

The wisdom behind the idea of being your own best friend is that sometimes, no matter if you have the most supportive friends and family around you…sometimes they’re just not going to get it. And the one who has to give you the best advice for the situation, the one who will encourage and also challenge you, the one who will tell you the truth when you really need to hear it: that person is yourself. But, since we tend to be mean SOB’s when it comes to giving ourselves advice, far better to pretend we were giving our best friend that advice (because I certainly hope we’re nicer to them than we are when it comes to our own internal voice.)

This means today I can tell myself with confidence:

  • I know I have talent and I know what I’m doing as a writer…even if that doesn’t mean I can’t always continue to learn and evolve.
  • I’ve solved harder problems before, and I will figure out what’s holding me back with this current WIP and, eventually, I’ll make it sing.
  • There’s no sense worrying about things I can’t control. Instead, I should focus on the things I can control – like submitting my best work, and continuing to write and create new work.
  • Who I am as a writer today isn’t the same person I was as a writer last year, nor who I’ll be next year. And that’s both okay, and wonderful as I continue to grow and evolve.
  • Yes, some of the things I need to do this year scare me. But even if I fail spectacularly, it won’t kill me. It’s not how many times I fall, but how many times I get back up again (Yes, I think my inner-best-friend likes watching Batman Begins.) 😉
  • The advice I give my five-year-old is no less true for myself. No, you won’t be good at everything to start with – but with practice you’ll improve. No, not everyone will like you – but that doesn’t mean you won’t make friends. No, you’re not perfect, but that’s okay, no one is, and that’s what makes us human.

So what about you? Have you been trying to be your own best friend these days? I hope so. How’s it working out?

Thanks for stopping by, and wishing you a terrific week and happy writing!

Plotting Board 1.0

So this year, as I get back into more serious writing, I continue to experiment with my method. Yes, I’m probably looking for the perfect fit that lets me produce the best books I can, and I thought I’d share my latest experiment. 😉 

This is my first plotting board, aka Plotting Board 1.0. Now, I’m not exactly either a plotter or a pantser, but instead something in between, and I think my board reflects this. You may note that in some places, I have cards denoting either a scene idea or a plot point – and lots of mostly blank cards. 😉 And no, the two different colours don’t denote anything specific other than the fact that I ran out of yellow cards. 😉 

I used to work all the time with index cards, and when I got into plots / multiple subplots, I found the whole card thing ungainly to work with (ie: 5 billion cards later).  But, this is my new way of looking at it, at least to try and understand the initial story concept. 

Actually, as I was working through it, I think for the next book what I’ll do is start with the basic plot points and from there add / subtract sticky notes for specific story notes, especially when it comes to the first draft and I’m still trying to figure things out. You can probably see from this picture that I started doing that here too. And eventually the other blank cards will be fleshed out with either direct writing or more likely, more sticky notes. 

I have heard of and seen boards that break the acts into further sequences, but for me (who tends to like writing everything down in somewhat random places) so far, I think that this method is a good place to start. 

So, what do you think? Have you ever used a plotting board and if so, have any suggestions / ideas you’d like to share? 

Thanks for stopping by, and wishing you a terrific week and happy writing. 🙂