Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Not a Failure--A Learner #IWSG



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Recently I was listening to a very successful person talking about failure and making mistakes. He suggested that people take this attitude: "I'm not a failure, I'm a learner." 

This person had tried new things and failed. He'd tried some things and succeeded. His perspective was this: keep trying new things, even if you're scared. You will NOT fail, because even if things don't go your way, you've still learned something new. There's immeasurable value in that.

His statement really resonated with me. As a matter of fact, I'm about to do a whole lot of learning. I'm participating in NaNoWriMo again this year (my sixth!), but I'm trying something completely new. I'm using my beloved characters from my novel The Boy Who Loved Fire. Not a sequel, but more like a companion book. Plus I'm writing in dueling points of view. I've never done that before. Oh, and this will be more like a thriller. So yes, there will be plenty of failure...er...learning...going on.

I'm also studying ideas about releasing books as serials, podiobooks, and all kinds of fun stuff. One thing I've learned about this publishing business, especially indie publishing, is there are so many cool things to try.

What if something doesn't work out? I'll learn from it and move on to the next thing. And I won't consider it a failure...I'll consider it a learning experience.

Friends, what's your take on failure? Do you consider it a bad thing, or do you find value when things don't go the way you'd imagined? Are you afraid to try new things because of the fear of failure? Please share!

38 comments:

  1. It's only a failure if you quit. But if you learn from it and keep moving forward, it's not.
    Good luck with your NaNo project!

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    1. Alex, exactly! Some of our best outcomes are a result of failures.

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  2. He's got a great attitude. And it feels so carefree. I need to adopt that. And then I read Alex's comment... His initial statement is not as gentle, more like a slap. He's spot on, though.

    You go with the companion novel thing! That's actually my plan once I write my current YA, which I've been dragging my feet to write. It's all about starting...aka my post for today.

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    1. Sheri, failure doesn't feel good at the time, that's for sure. But when I look back on my life, sometimes what I thought was the right path wasn't the right path, and a higher power failed me onto the right path (if that makes sense). Good luck to you with your current YA AND your next project :)

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  3. I love that way of putting it because it's so true. I have learned from so many of my mistakes. And as I keep trying new things, I keep learning.

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    1. Karen--that's the key. As long as we learn from our failures, they were not a waste.

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  4. Alternatives, options, chances, learning . . . it's life and it's writing. Failures are for those who don't want to experience life in all its peaks and valleys glory. Keep on learning, I say!

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    1. Dean, you're right about that! Failure is part of life. If we choose not to fail at anything, we won't try anything new. How boring!

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  5. I used to think failure is giving up but I don't even believe that anymore because sometimes one must give up on one approach to try a better one. I like the idea of failure as learning.

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    1. Karen, yes! If everything worked the way we wanted it to, we wouldn't move on to the next thing, which may be better!

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  6. That's something I need to consider. Failure is just another beginning.

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    1. Traci, exactly! This thing didn't work. Ok, next!

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  7. I like to think of my writing as a journey, where I'm always learning, and where failing mean you stopped bothering to learn. Still, I wouldn't mind seeing a real victory every once in a while.

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    1. Ha! Ken, I know how you feel. But I'll bet you've had more victories than you give yourself credit for. Let's all keep "failing" our way to the finish line :)

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  8. Funny that you should mention serials. That could very well be the next big thing. There are no failures unless you allow it. :)

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    1. David, I've heard the same thing. And it's actually a cool concept. Break up a stand alone book into smaller sections, or create smaller stories that are released separately...all fun options.

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  9. Ahh I love that!
    It's up to us to really make the best out of the bad & keep pushing with everything we've learned. Great post!

    S.K. Anthony: My Writing Quirks—IWSG (16)

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    1. S.K., it's all about attitude, right? One failure. Another failure. Next! What did we learn from those failure?? Hopefully something!

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  10. I love trying new things and if I fail, I sob a little, and then try again!!

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    1. Cathrina, good point. Sometimes a little "mourning" period is necessary when we fail. As long as we learn from it and eventually move on.

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  11. That's a good attitude to have. You never know when you'll be awesome at something new :)

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    1. Dolorah, so true! Heck, I was so afraid to fail at writing. And I've definitely had roadblocks. But if I'd never tried because I'd been afraid to fail, well, how sad would that have been?

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  12. Man, this seems so especially true with trying to publish now that things are changing so fast. But isn't it Edison who said "I haven't failed at making a light bulb. I've learned a hundred ways not to do it. (or something like that)

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    1. Hart, I love that Edison quote! Imagine if he'd given up just before that final success. Sheesh. And you're so right about publishing. It's changing so fast I can hardly keep up. Heck, I'm not keeping up. Who am I kidding?

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  13. I read somewhere that the most successful people are those who fail the most because they're not afraid to try.

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    1. Susan, I thought about that when I watched that Steve Jobs movie. That guy was so fearless! Totally unafraid of failure. I admire that in people. I'm not unafraid of failure, but I'm learning to see it differently.

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  14. Love that idea of being a "learner" and not a "failure." Good luck with NaNo! I'm trying something different, too. Fingers crossed for all of us. :)

    Madeline @ The Shellshank Redemption

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    1. Oooh, something different! Madeline, I wish you all the best with your NaNo project!

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  15. Thomas Edison said something like, he hasn't failed; he's just found 1000 ways that don't work. Ha! With that philosophy you DO need patience and perseverance. But I do take solace from people that we now all regard as geniuses who were intimately familiar with failure before they hit upon their success.

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    1. Kim, I admire those people as well. I wonder how many times along the way they'd felt like quitting? Thank goodness they didn't quit!

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  16. trying out dueling POVs sounds challenging and exciting at the same time, I'd love to read a book like that! best of luck, and I do love that approach. We should take it for life in general, not just for writing.

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    1. E. E., so true about taking that advice for life in general.

      Dueling pov...definitely different! I just have to think longer and harder about where to switch the pov. A fun challenge :)

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  17. Such and optimistic way of looking at things. I'm in.

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    1. Yes! We'll definitely fail at times on our publishing journey. Might as well learn something from it :)

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  18. One of my favorite quotes (not sure who said it): The difference between a master and a student is the master has failed more times than the student has tried

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    1. Ooooh, Stephen, that's awesome! I love that.

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  19. Hahaha!!! Oh dear… I'm a BIG learner then, lol… JK :) I love this, Julie. What a perfect way to look at "failing."

    I've definitely felt like such a failure these past few months… it's been really difficult, but it's amazing how we eventually pick ourselves up and keep moving--find hope and faith again. Thank goodness. <3

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    1. Morgan, heck, I'm failing my way through this NaNo draft! We all feel this way from time to time, but when we look back, we see how it was all a learning experience. Just like your post about reflecting on the past year <3

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