Let’s face it, speaking for authors in general can be pretty daunting, especially if you’re one of those who freezes up in front of people. For day 2 of NaNoProMo (created by Rachel Thomson), Paul Geiger offers a way that could help ease the stress of speaking.
Most authors will admit they write a lot better than they speak. (I happen to write the same way I speak – but I’m only developing one character here.) Most people, in general, don’t even like the sound of their own voice. Couple that with a little nervousness when being interviewed about your book and you’re in for a bumpy and unpredictable ride. Any time you let the word out that you’ve got a big promotional opportunity, you will inevitably receive a lot of well-intentioned advice: “Be yourself.” “Just speak the way you write. You’ll be great!” “Show them how smart you are.” “Take a deep breath and go for it.” Your friends and family mean well but, ultimately, you’re still left with no answers. The better action plan for how to talk about your book has only three parts: Discover your bumper sticker. Leverage your forward momentum. Know how to close the loop.
It’s something that’s hard to swallow but true. We are all going to fail at something. It could be from something simple to breaking a key off in a door lock or something big like a failed book title.
The beauty is, there’s nothing wrong with it as long as you choose to keep trying. This is the difference between a failure and someone who fails. The failure stays down and quits fighting while the one who fails keeps getting up and trying new things.
“Success is not final; failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” — Winston Churchill
It’s perfectly fine if your first trial fails. It’s supposed to!
As an author, I am constantly learning to accept there are projects that may not see the light of day for one reason or another. The beauty of it is, it’s okay. Odds are you’re not going to have a perfect first draft. As a matter of fact, it’s most likely going to be horrible, however, the most important thing is for it to simply exist. You can’t edit a blank canvas but you can edit a bad first draft.
We see it all the time. New editions of books, remakes of games, character designs updated after years. These are people who realize that they’re allowed to edit or fix something. They developed their skills, honed them and got back in the saddle. Whatever you, never settle on your first draft of anything being your magnum opus. It won’t be. It’s not supposed to be.
The Wright Brothers went through many stages of the first planes which failed miserably. J.K Rowling wrote her first draft on a napkin and received multiple rejections on Harry Potter before it got picked up.
Allow yourself to fail. In the long run, it is the ultimate teacher and can make something turn into something else you never thought of.
Starting is Hard….
“The hardest thing to do is to start.” — Stephen King
He was right. Beginning anything new is terrifying. You may fear not having enough money, enough time, giving up something like binge watching Netflix, feeling you’re too advanced in age?
If this is you (because it was and sometimes still is me) ask why you’re terrified? Then weight the pros and cons. What do you have to benefit from being willing to fail? What do you have to lose?
Then remember: “I’m not alone. Others have failed before and become great. I can do this too.”
Every single success story from Apple to Pixar, from Harry Potter to Twilight, have experienced failure. The difference, they didn’t quit. They took the hits and got back up.
To quote a very amazing rat: “Change is nature, dad and it starts when we decide.”
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So often we’re terrified of this one little word. It paralyzes us. Keeps us fearful and holds us back from attempting a deeply ingrained dream. It scares us so bad, often we think it’s better not to try than fail altogether. Who knew one little word held so much power?
In this series on failure, our hope is that our readers will learn not to fear failure but embrace it as a step in their journey to success.
What Is Failure?
The best way to start understanding something is to become familiar with what it is.
According to Dictionary.com, failure is defined as:
A lack of success
or an insufficiency
You’ll notice, nowhere in those definitions are the words “impossible”, “Non-attainable” or “unreachable.” The common themes are “a lack” of something. When looked at by entrepreneurs, the art of failing is when one stops (nonperformance) trying to attain their goals (a lack of success).
Why Does It Terrify Us?
Good question. What exactly is it about failure that terrifies someone enough to keep them from even trying? Is it a damaging view of others? Maybe we’re afraid to give our last dimes to obtain something only to have it backfire. Perhaps it’s the idea of wasting time over something which seems silly. Truth is, why failure paralyzes differs from person to person. It often depends on the individual.
History Is Made on Failure
No matter how terrifying, failure is one of the most beautiful things in the history of creation. Every living and non-living thing has experienced a form of failure. The next time you sit down at your laptop, your phone, your game system, the airport, etc, take a solid look. Every inventor of these great technological advances suffered failure! You have your phone because of ridicule and failure! Airplanes are flying on the backs of multiple failures! The books we read were printed on failure. The list goes on! What makes this different is these failures didn’t stop until they made the plane fly. Made the internet work. Made a website where most of the world’s online commerce occurs. History, great and small was built on the backs of failures.
Why It Is More Valuable Than Success
This is most likely going to sound like the most absurd of ideas but it holds true. Bishop T.D. Jakes states, “we learn more from our failures, than our successes.” Why does he say this? Because once you’ve reached your success, whatever it may be, you are beginning something anew. You reach failure again and again when you work to brand and market that success. Failures are teachers. They beat us down, they hurt, they ache but in the end, we can choose to get up or we can stay down. Failure is the best learning tool. When Charles Darwin wrote his Origin of Species, he witnessed one the most elaborate examples of failure. Nature.
Why We Need Failure
We wouldn’t grow without it. Our characters wouldn’t build to become something stronger. Our intellects wouldn’t be pushed to solve the problems caused by failure to become success. Bishop Jakes offers a story about his father, who began a business with only a mop and a bucket in a difficult time in history. However, he persevered and built a truly flourishing enterprise.
The Truth Is, Your Dream Has to Sound Insane
Going back to Bishop Jakes. In his most recent appearance at the Global Leadership Summit, he states “your dream has to sound unattainable for it to be worth it.” It has to sound like it’ll hurt or is it worth your failure? For avid viewers of the popular Food Network show, Chopped, one cannot watch an episode without hearing stories of people who gave everything to obtain their culinary dreams. Did they think they’d get as much back as they did? No! Not at all but they took a risk and landed in one of the most viewed shows on television.
“Your dream has to sound unattainable for it to be worth it.” — T.D Jakes, Founder of the Potter’s House
Ultimately, failure is terrifying. There’s no escaping the fact. The trick is to look it in the eyes and push through to make your dream a reality. Ask yourself, what have I really got to lose? Then ask – What have I honestly got to gain?
Some great resources for when you need some reassurance:
Soar by T.D Jakes, Potter’s House
Creativity, Inc by Ed Catmull, Pixar
Power of Your Potential by John Maxwell, author, pastor