“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” ‑ Michael Jordan
So, you may not be a professional basketball player like Michael Jordan, and God knows neither am I. But is your soul flowing with creativity?
Well, then you and I are in the same boat (I’m assuming you said yes). I feel passionate about everything writing and storytelling related, but I’ve also met with too many blank pages over the past years.
My blank pages.
My own blank pages slapping me too hard with barely a caress while screaming into my eardrums without even a whisper. My own blank pages telling me I’m a failure.
Now, my pages aren’t always blank. I write on and off, but nothing I deem good enough to share . . . because I fear failure. Ironic, I know. Earlier this year, I took things to another level and went on a wild ride with the “Writing 500 Words a Day” club. Then I stopped. I needed to revise . . . and three months later, I have yet to get back on track. Time is limited, but that’s always true, so I have to ignore it being a factor and move on as if it means nothing.
My love for creativity extends to drawing (like AMAZING stick figures), recreating board games with my kids, and molding playdough like you wouldn’t believe. Painting cool patterns on the walls? Yep. Amateur graphic designing? Uh-huh. Content marketing? Sure. Baking rock-chips mud pies? You better believe it. And yet, even with those “wins” under my belt, I’m a failure because I’m not finishing the one thing that would make me feel fulfilled creatively: finishing my novels.
Some of my creative writing time does go to podcasting as well. So I should feel fulfilled, and yet . . . if you read my Mistakes I’ve Made post, then you know there were some hiccups with the podcasting sites and the followers that made me feel partly like a failure. Not that I had any real reason, the number of followers doesn’t reflect the awesome amount of listens we get weekly. And yet, I felt like a failure. But then? Last month, we received a “congratulations email” for making it into a Top Ten Life Hacks Podcasts list (#6), and I was reminded that:
Putting the work out there is the first step. The rest will come.
I have to finish the books and get them out there. Whether it’s considered real failure or not, my blank pages are in fact real . . . as is the feeling in my heart. Everyone has different concepts of what constitutes failure, it could be a hundred rejection letters, a devastating critique, or the wrath of reviewers. But you can’t get to any of those stages if you keep staring at a blank page . . . so yeah, I’m back at the beginning. But I’m hoping that like Michael Jordan, those failures will turn into success. For me, though, that’s just getting it out there.
And in case a super athlete doesn’t inspire you because you need a like-minded type of failure, I’ve got you covered.
Here are some of our favorite authors / creatives and their failures:
- Walt Disney was told he lacked imagination. I mean, WTF.
- Dr. Seuss had his first book rejected 27 times. Well, he showed them.
- J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter without any plan for success . . . and faced multiple rejections. Imagine if she wanted to succeed?
- Stephen King threw away early drafts of Carrie, and it was rejected 30 times. Are we sure he didn’t toss it with fear each time he wrote a creepy scene?
- Not only was J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord Of The Rings rejected by several publishers, but in 1961 it was also passed over for the Nobel literature prize because it had ‘not in any way measured up to storytelling of the highest quality.’ Maybe they were waiting on the movies?
What can you learn from them?
- Don’t give up! I know. Life-changing idea. But seriously, it’s scarier to never find out what you’re capable of . . . I mean, you’re just sitting there, reading this, totally clueless of the amazing future you’re about to create.
- Just because you’ve been a loser so far doesn’t mean that’s what you’ll always be. Okay, so “loser” is a bit dramatic and super harsh, but it made you flinch, right? Good. Go show the world the winner you are just like Dr. Seuss, J.K., and S.K. (Stephen, not me.)
- Don’t let past failures keep you from pursuing your dreams. To be completely cliché: let’s learn from our failures and make them work in our favor. In this case, I suppose it’s to get words down no matter what and stop second-guessing everything.
What’s keeping you from your writing?