On Failing Upward

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

There are no “instant” paths to success. Here are four backstories that inspire and motivate me to stay focused on my goals:

Michael Jordan, a perennial optimist, once said, “I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions, I have been entrusted to take the game’s winning shot…and missed. I have failed over and over again in my life. And, that is why I succeed.”

The first Harry Potter book was turned down by eight agents, and when J.K. Rowling finally got a deal, she was warned by the publisher, “You’ll never make any money with children’s books.”

Jay Leno‘s high school grades were so bad that his guidance counselor recommended that he drop out and go into manual labour. His loving, but no-nonsense mother sat down with him one day and gave him the following advice, “Look, you’re not very good looking and you’re not very smart, so you’ll have to do twice as much as everyone else to succeed.”

Albert Einstein failed his college exams and was advised by a teacher to drop out of school. She said, “You’ll never amount to anything, Einstein.”


10 Ways to Build Writer Resilience

I’m happy to welcome mystery author and executive coach Melissa H. Blaine to the Power of 10 series. Today, Melissa shares valuable insights and advice about building writer resilience.

Here’s Melissa!

What’s the bravest writing action you took today?

Creative work is filled with failure and setbacks. Rejections. Bad reviews. Publishers closing. Declining sales. Unsupportive family and friends. The list could go on. Every time we fill up a page with words or put paint to a canvas or pull images into a design we are taking a risk. Because creative work like writing is subjective, nothing that we create will be loved by everyone. Likewise, our writing or other creative work always includes some of ourselves in it. We’re not just laying our work on the line; we’re laying bare a piece of ourselves for the world to see and judge too.

Building resilience is important for writers as we navigate the challenges. Being able to bounce back from adversity is a skill that we can develop and nurture—one that will keep us writing when things look bleak or we don’t believe in ourselves. We may not feel brave or resilient or tough, but finding the paths ahead make us all of those things every day.

Looking to nurture your resilient spirit? Here are ten ways to find resilience in those challenging moments.

1. Acknowledge the Emotions

Emotions happen. As humans, we’re going to feel disappointment, anger, doubt, shame, and hurt when setbacks happen. Identifying and acknowledging what we’re feeling can not only be a healthy response but also help us move forward. By accepting the emotions, we give ourselves that chance to learn how to manage it in healthy ways and the acceptance can take away some of the destructive powers that negative emotions can have. Did a writing group member take a snipe at you that made you angry or upset? Acknowledge how you feel and why you feel it. Our emotions can be complicated creatures so getting to the bottom of things might reveal truths that help us move forward.

2. Find the Comeback Stories

Whenever we face a setback or a challenging event like a rejection, it can be easy to feel alone or to compare ourselves to other successful writers. The truth is that all of us struggle at some point. Look for the comeback stories in the people you admire or see around you. Maybe they have their own string of agent rejections or have had their publisher close the doors. Finding the stories of others who have gone through what you’re experiencing can not only make you feel less alone but also reassure you that the rejection, setback, or bad review doesn’t have to be the end of your story either.

3. Take the Big Picture

Setbacks, rejection, and bad reviews can feel like the end of the world. In the moment, it can feel like we won’t recover or that there’s no way forward. Taking the big picture can help you focus beyond the moment. Maybe your dream agent didn’t love your book, but there are many other agents out there who might love it. A missed deadline can be defeating in the moment, but might not even be noteworthy in five years. Try to see above the fray. Will this matter in two months or two years? Does it really close off the paths forward or do you need to shift a little to find a way through?

4. Use Your Strengths

Everyone of us has character strengths that we draw on every day. These include positive traits like hope, humor, curiosity, perseverance, and bravery. When negativity seems like it’s hanging around us like a dementor waiting to pounce, consciously using a character strength can help you summon your patronus to banish it away. Learn to recognize your signature strengths and you’ll get better about being about to call them up to help you rebound. Imagine that you’re on a writers’ panel at the biggest conference of the year in front of your favorite author and you fall getting into your chair and then spill a glass of water down the front of your shirt. Disaster? Maybe not. You call up your humor strength, crack a joke, and your favorite author invites you to lunch.

5. Look for the Lesson

Whenever we fall flat, it can be difficult to peer into the dark and look for the truth. We’d rather hide or blame it on someone else. It’s OK to take some time, but don’t forget to look for a lesson in there. Does that hurtful bad review have a grain of truth in there that can help you improve the next book? Is the feedback from your critique group the same week after week? Is that typo that haunts your dreams a symptom of rushing through things or not hiring a copyeditor? Finding the lesson can help you improve and grow, as well as giving you good practice in learning from the adversity.

6. Fall Forward

We all fail. At some point, something isn’t going to work or go our way. Falling forward means that we take what we’ve learned through the failure and fall forward with growth, new insights, and better skills. What we try might not work, but it can move us forward, if we let it. Maybe that story you wrote isn’t garnering rave reviews from your critique group, but you gained experiences and new insights so you’ll fall forward from where you started. If you fall forward, you use those experiences and insights to help you succeed on the next step.

7. Write Your Own Comeback

What if you could write your own success story? Try journaling about your next steps and successes in the future. Writing down what you’re feeling or where you want to go can help give you perspective about what’s happening. Research has also shown that talking to yourself in the third person or as “you” can help people perform in stressful situations better than if they use “I.” Give it a try in your journaling. It can help reduce feelings of shame as well as help us be more objective in our feedback to ourselves.

8. Build Your Community

We can’t always choose who we interact with but finding your community can help you foster resilience. Look for people who you can trust to both give you honest answers as well as who want the best for you with no strings attached. Your inner writing circle can have an effect on your self-talk so it’s good to be choosy and find your people, including the people that you hire and entrust your work to like editors, coaches, and marketers. Lean on your community in those moments when you need support and a boost up. That’s what friends are for, after all.

9. Use the Muse

Those hard moments can drain our creative well. It’s not unusual to find your creativity flagging along with your spirits after you read that not-great review or your book isn’t selling well. Sagging creativity then feeds into the negativity because if you can’t write, you can’t find your way out of the pit. Bolster your muse by doing something new, taking yourself on an artist’s date, or getting in some quiet time. Your muse might not make a sudden, dramatic appearance, but a new idea or story will eventually start itching in your brain. Give yourself the space and use the muse to pull yourself back into writing.

10. Delete the Doubt

Whenever those setbacks happen, imposter syndrome likes to show up right behind them. We doubt our ability to write, to be a writer, to succeed as a writer. Deleting the self-doubt that tries to keep us from moving forward can help us bounce back quicker and easier. If we believe that we are resilient and brave, we’ll act more resilient and brave. If we know how to kick self-doubt to the curb, we can find that healthier, stronger relationship with ourselves and our writing that lets us skip over some of those challenges like a pebble on water.

Online Course

Is doubt holding you back from writing or publishing your book, blog, or dissertation? Writing is hard; doubt makes it harder. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Delete the Doubt is an online course designed to help you learn to use good doubt productively and banish the bad doubt from your writing life. When you embrace the good doubt, you’ll be able to use it—because that’s where creative genius happens—and spot when good doubt starts to turn to self-doubt so that you can stop it in its tracks before it stops you. Through the course, you’ll develop your own roadmap for deleting doubt so that you can draw on the strategies that work best for you. Choose the Delete the Doubt course option that works best for you: course only, two-month course program with weekly group coaching and discussions, and premium three-month course with 1-1 coaching sessions each week.

Get 50% off any course through February 17, 2020.
Visit this website and use the code prelaunchhalfoff.

Bio

Melissa Haveman (aka Melissa H. Blaine) is a mystery author, Michigander, and executive coach. She has almost eighteen years experience as a developmental editor and writer, and she’s also served as the Director of Content for an academic publisher. She’s taken hundreds of writing projects from start to finish, working with experienced and beginner writers alike.

Melissa is the owner of Creatively Centered, an executive coaching business that specializes in making remote work, work. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, the SinC-Guppy chapter, the Short Mystery Fiction Society, and the Grand Rapids Region Writers Group (GRRWG), as well as the Center for Executive Coaching and the International Coach Federation.

Her sociology degrees have led to many hours researching gravestones, urban legends, and how villains are created in history. When she’s not in front of her computer screen, Melissa is off hiking with her (hell)hound.

Author Website | Coaching Website | Instagram | Twitter


Try Something Different

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

Last week, I reread some of the stories in the first book of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series (1993).

Here’s one of my favorites from Price Pritchett:

I’m sitting in a quiet room at the Milcroft Inn, a peaceful little place hidden among the pine trees about an hour out of Toronto. It’s just past noon, late July, and I’m listening to the desperate sounds of a life-or-death struggle going on a few feet away.

There’s a small fly burning out the last of its short life energies in a futile attempt to fly through the glass of the windowpane. The whining wings tell the poignant story of the fly’s strategy: Try harder.

But it’s not working.

The frenzied effort offers no hope for survival. Ironically, the struggle is part of the trap. It is impossible for the fly to try hard enough to succeed at breaking through the glass. Nevertheless, this little insect has staked its life on reaching its goal through raw effort and determination.

This fly is doomed. It will die there on the window-sill.

Across the room, ten steps away, the door is open. Ten seconds of flying time and this small creature could reach the outside world it seeks. With only a fraction of the effort now being wasted, it could be free of this self-imposed trap. The breakthrough possibility is there. It could be so easy.

Why doesn’t the fly try another approach, something dramatically different? How did it get so locked in on the idea that this particular route and determined effort offer the most promise for success? What logic is there in continuing until death to see a breakthrough with more of the same?

No doubt this approach makes sense to the fly. Regrettably, it’s an idea that will kill.

Price Pritchett’s Advice: Sometimes we need to do something radically different to achieve greater levels of success. We need to break out of our paradigm prisons, our habit patterns, and our comfort zones.

Source: Chicken Soup for the Soul, 101 Stories to Open the Heart and Kindle the Spirit, pp. 222-223


How to Overcome Writer’s Block

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

In her book, How I Write: Secrets of a Bestselling Author, Janet Evanovich recommends writing something every day, even it means just a few sentences on the screen. And not getting too hung up on rewriting the first page or chapter. Rewriting and polishing should be done only on a completed manuscript.

Here are Janet’s suggestions…

Do it by time. Start with five minutes and increase the time by five minutes a day. In two weeks, you will be sitting at your desk for about an hour a day.

Do it by pages. Start with one paragraph a day and work towards a page a day. By year’s end, you will have written 365 pages.

Do it by word account. Plan to write a specific number of words each day. Hemingway wrote around 500 words a day–approximately 2 pages. Those two pages a day produced nine novels and a number of short stories–with plenty of time out for game hunting and fishing.

Do it by appointment. Carve out a place and a certain time of each day for writing. Then show up for work.

About Janet…

Janet Evanovich is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Stephanie Plum series, the co-authored Fox and O’Hare series, the Knight and Moon series, and the Lizzy and Diesel series as well as twelve romance novels, the Alexandra Barnaby novels, Troublemaker graphic novel, and How I Write: Secrets of a Bestselling Author.


20 Motivational Quotes That Will Inspire You to Succeed

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

Here are twenty quotations that inspire and motivate. At this point in time, the words of Maya Angelou, Tommy Lasorda, and Zig Ziglar resonate with me the most.



Replenishing My Inner Well

In 1992, I picked up a copy of The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. Hoping to inspire and motivate my inner writer, I spent an entire weekend devouring the book and then decided to incorporate morning pages and artist dates into my life.

That enthusiasm fizzled after only one week.

At the time, I was in the thick of my career and personal life. Busy with course preps, curriculum meetings, extra-curricular activities, and family health issues, I found myself unable to even consider adding one more activity to my schedule.

Continue reading on the Soul Mate Authors blog.


Inspiration and Motivation From My Bookshelves

In 1977, I purchased my first self-help book, Your Erroneous Zones by Dr. Wayne Dyer. Since that time, I have devoured hundreds (possibly thousands) of self-help books. Some I’ve purchased…others I’ve borrowed…some I’ve reviewed…many I’ve given away.

Continue reading on the Soul Mate Authors blog.


Stop Wasting Time

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

Coach Hite doesn’t mince words in this motivational video. Originally intended for students, the message will resonate with listeners of all ages.


How to Live Passionately–No Matter Your Age

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

Here’s an entertaining and inspiring perspective on aging from one of my favorite authors: Isabel Allende.


A Three-Step Remedy from Warren Buffett

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

In his latest book, When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, author Daniel H. Pink devotes an entire chapter to Midpoints. At the end of the chapter, he shares several strategies and anecdotes from well-known high achievers. I was impressed by this advice from Warren Buffett:

One day Mr. Buffett was talking with his private pilot, who was frustrated that he hadn’t achieved all he’d hoped. Mr. Buffett prescribed the following three-step remedy.

First, he said, write down your top twenty-five goals for the rest of your life.

Second, look at the list and circle your top five goals, those that are unquestionably your highest priority. That will give you two lists–one with your top five goals, the other with the next twenty.

Third, immediately start planning how to achieve those top five goals. And the other twenty? Get rid of them. Avoid them at all costs. Don’t even look at them until you’ve achieved the top five, which might take a long time.

Doing a few important things well is far more likely to propel you out of the slump than a dozen half-finished projects.