Monday, April 23, 2012

Why You Should Fail

You should fail because it will all work out in the end. You just have to keep going.

I think everyone needs a bit of adversity in their life. To be able to say they've failed. And failed. And failed. Because it is the people that try one more time that are the ones that will succeed in the end.

Everyone should have something that they fight for. Something they care enough about to fight for. Something that they would risk everything for. Something that they maybe fail at first but keep fighting for. Because for every time you fail, someone else does too. But the difference is, you have to want it badly enough to pick yourself up again and keep fighting for it. And harder than before, because for every time you fail maybe someone else fails too. Maybe they don't keep going. Maybe they quit. Maybe that brings you one step closer to succeeding. But if you're the one to quit you'll never know. And you'll definitely never be the one to succeed.

So here's to everyone that fails. Here's to those that fail again. And here's to those that will always keep failing because it means you'll always keep trying. And one day the ones that will risk it all and fail the most will be the ones to succeed.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Dare Greatly: Putting Your Book Out in the World

I don’t think anything makes you more crazy than writing a novel. In what other profession would it be acceptable and encouraged for you to be hearing voices in your head from your characters—encouraging them to talk to you? In what other job do you try to create and temporarily live in some other world? When writing a novel you go through this intensely personal experience for months or years, pouring words onto the page and crafting each word, each sentence, each page into something that you hope is great…or at least okay. The entire process drives you crazy. You don’t want to write maybe because it’s agony, but the even worse agony is not writing.

And then one day you realize that the time has come. Your novel is “done.” Or done for now. It’s time to let someone else read it and give you feedback. It’s time for it to go out into the world.

So you read it over one last time, making sure everything is how you want it—making sure you even like it at all. And this reading confirms it—you love it, you absolutely love it. You’re so proud of what you’ve done, that you’ve accomplished this. That you have just written—gasp—a book! So you go and have it printed up and you give it to those initial few close and trusted Beta Readers. You’re so excited for them to read it! You’ve been waiting months for this very moment!

But then when one of them says they’re about to start reading the first chapter, somehow the whole illusion shatters. “Wait!” you think. “Wait, you’re really going to do it? Now?” and suddenly, you’ve never been more unsure of yourself. "Oh gosh! It’s so horrible. Don’t read it," you think. "They're going to hate it, just hate it. They’re going to tell me it’s the worst thing ever and it doesn’t have any chance at ever being published!" And then what will all of those last few months of writing have been for?

The vulnerability and the doubt wash in, more powerful than ever, and leave you feeling like all you want to do is throw up. You sit anxiously by the phone, waiting for your Beta Readers to call--because surely they’ve read the first chapter by now and don’t they have something to say about it? Oh gosh, they probably haven’t called because it’s so bad and they don’t know how to break it to you. Don’t quit your day job they’re secretly thinking as you check to make sure you have reception for the hundredth time.

It’s incredibly hard to create something, to spend all the time and effort working on it. But it’s even harder to share it with the world. To embrace the vulnerability of it all and to put it out there for other people to read and critique. Because they may hate it. But there’s that chance that they won’t, that hope that maybe what you’ve done isn’t as horrible as you now think (after all—wasn’t it just a few hours ago you had decided you loved it?) and you’ll never know if what you’ve done is great or maybe someday could be great if you never put it out there and try.

"To create is to make something that has never existed before--there's nothing more vulnerable than that." ~ BrenĂ© Brown. So my good friend Victoria had told me to watch this TED Talk by BrenĂ© Brown a while back, but I finally got around to watching it yesterday and it was amazing—just what I needed to hear. It’s all about listening to shame and vulnerability and how the most successful people embrace vulnerability because it is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change. You should definitely check it out here. And one of the main takeaways I got was that those who “dare greatly” are the ones that embrace the vulnerability and dare to be courageous and put themselves out there. These are the people that can succeed because they have taken the risks. So here I am, daring greatly, and putting my book out there so that maybe I can become something more, so that I can learn and grow, and so that maybe I can create something that has never existed before.

And then you do get the call—They don’t hate it! They love it too! Phew, you sigh in relief for a moment. Maybe I was right to begin with. But then a few minutes later you’re back to….but what if they’re lying so they don’t hurt my feelings?! Basically…writers can never be sane about things like this, but you’ve still got to put your work out there and try. 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Writer’s Brain

Right brain: “I am the right brain. I am creativity. A free spirit. I am passion. Yearning. Sensuality. I am the sound of roaring laughter. I am taste. The feeling of sand beneath bare feet. I am movement. Vivid colors. I am the urge to paint on an empty canvas. I am boundless imagination. Art. Poetry. I sense. I feel. I am everything I wanted to be.”

Sometimes the writer's brain can feel like it's exploding--with thoughts, ideas, emotions, words, creativity. Everything wants to burst right out of the writer's brain and onto the page. It reminds me of the beautiful Mercedes-Benz ad above depicting the right brain erupting with color all over the page. The writer's brain can't be contained. 

They’ll love it! They’ll hate it! The writer’s brain relishes in arguing with itself. During the editing process and as I come closer and closer to sharing my novel with others, this is something I have come to realize quite well. No sooner have you thought: They are going to love this. I will be a published author one day, than does your brain tack on Maybe. Or maybe it’s terrible. No, they’re going to hate it! What was I thinking? This is the worst! And from there it’s just a downward spiral.

Whoa there, writer’s brain. Calm down. Get off the emotional rollercoaster. There’s enough drama in that book, we don’t need residual drama from you. But still, the rational part of your brain probably does not prevail over the dash of crazy floating around on the writer’s side.

So how do you deal with this emotional and dramatic writer’s brain? In the end, you step away from the computer, take a few deep breaths, and tell the writer’s brain to cut it out. It doesn’t matter if everyone else hates the novel if you love it. You have to believe in your idea and what you’ve been working on—and presumably you do if you’ve chosen to put so much time and effort into it. You have to keep writing and pressing on through all of the chaos of writer’s brain, all of the doubt that tries to creep in, and you just have to finish. In all likelihood, even if you do end up hating it in the end, you will have enjoyed the process and learned from it, and there’s so much value in that alone.

The writer’s brain is also impetuous and selfish. Demanding and dramatic. You must write now! it clamors. Now! There’s no time to do that reading right now—I have an idea, I must get the words out and onto a paper now! it screams. I am inspired! I must create! Again, “Calm down, writer’s brain!” you chide it, but it just jumps up and down eagerly, clamoring for attention like a four year old on a pixy stix high.

Sometimes you need to just go ahead and write down whatever idea you have because it’s probably going to sit there and nag at you until you do--or worse, get lost back in the black hole of your writer’s brain again.

Even though the writer’s brain can be kind of crazy, in the end it can also be kind of fun…after all everyone needs a little eccentricity in their life, no? Besides, if the alternative is engineering brain or something more drab from the left brain side, I think I’ll stick with the creative writing brain. ;)

In summary: writers are kind of crazy? But awesome.

Do you have the same problems with writer's brain? How do you tame the craziness? 

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