Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.
I hope you've had a busy and wonderful six months. I haven't written and sent out this weekly email since last September because I've been thinking and re-evaluating what my essays are all about.
A bit of self-doubt got to me, "What am I doing? Who cares?" ran through my mind until I stuttered and stopped writing. The desire to develop a creative talent couldn't seem to overcome the resistance of self-criticism. The goal of writing a book felt like it was slipping further away.
But you know what – Down with self-criticism! I don't have time for it anymore! I need to listen to a wise person every now and then, like me, who wrote encouraging things like, "Stiff upper lip!" statements in my past blogs. I recently re-read my earlier essays and they are full of reasons not to listen to self-criticism: 1) I think I was usually tired when those thoughts came to me, and 2) if no one else is listening to me, why should I?
Seriously, author of The Artist’s Way Julia Cameron says it beautifully, "There's no such thing as a non-creative person. We're all intended to be creative." Creativity is how we show our uniqueness; creativity is the means for us to express wisdom and beauty. Creativity is how we connect with others.
If you are held back by timidity, perhaps that last point will help you as it's helped me. Creativity is how we connect with others. In the beginning when you are working on your creative idea -- whether it's art or science or education or gardening or furniture -building or you-name-it – it may not feel good enough to share. The fear of failure brings with it visions of ridicule.
But, instead, if success of a creative idea is measured by whether it connected with just one person, I've been thinking that's enough. Isn't that person enough?
It feels contrary to typical public accolades of success like titles and trophies and awards. In his book, Be the Gateway, creative professional Dan Blank gives similar assurance, “Reframe success so it isn’t about seeking validation from massive audiences, but rather how you reach one person.”
Reaching just one person feels feasible, doesn’t it?
So to begin (again) here’s the master plan:
Steps in exploring writing a book
Daily practice of writing 30 minutes/day -- no excuses. I know that a daily practice of writing is critical. It's so easy to procrastinate and put things other than your creative project first, isn't it? 30 minutes/day = doable.
Research similar authors - One of the first questions I'm asked is "what's your book about?" or "what type of book will you write?" The answer is I don't know yet. So, as a first step, I've taken a stab at a short list of authors whose themes feel similar to something I'd like to write. Now I'm getting to know them better by reading their books, following them on social media and exploring what I like and don't like. As time goes on, I'll share what I learn.
Write essays – These longer blogs will be written from time to time and published on my website. They’re more challenging to write and push me to work harder at storytelling.
Ever failed. No matter. Try again.
Perhaps Beckett's speaking to you too?