Thursday, June 3, 2010

There is Only One Way to Fail

I started this topic four weeks ago when I blogged about the 4 steps toward achieving a goal as outlined in Dr. Wayne Dyer's book, YOU'LL SEE IT WHEN YOU BELIEVE IT.

1. Visualize
2. Tell yourself whatever you visualize is already here
3. Be willing to do whatever it takes
4. and Realize there is no such thing as failure.

Three weeks ago we looked at step 1 - Visualization. the next week week we discussed step 2- Having Faith. And last week looked at step 3, Being willing to do whatever it takes. That brings us to the wrap up - Realizing there's no such thing as failure.

This is a biggie for me, because my biggest personal fear in life is to fail. But after awhile, I've come to realize that as long as we continue working toward a goal, as long as we don't give up -we haven't failed. It's only when we stop trying that we can actually accept the label 'failure'.

Take writing, for instance. When I first began writing, I read tons of author success stories. Unlike many authors, I wasn't one of those that started writing young, or had always written. So I didn't have a natural foundation to build from, other than English and a couple creative writing classes in high school. So I studied the how-to's. I researched. I noted that the average length of time it took many authors to sell their first book was 4 years. 4 was good. I liked that. So I set a goal of selling by December of 2005 (I started writing in Feb of 2002). I wrote this goal on a bright purple index card and tacked it to the bulletin board above my computer monitor. I saw it every day when I sat down to write.

My four years were filled with ups and downs. I got requests, I got rejections. I won contests, I tanked in contests. I hired an agent, I fired that agent. I was thisclose so many times, it reached the point that it was emotionally debilitating to keep picking myself up after yet another... hmm, it sounds like failure would fit here, doesn't it. But no - I'll call it a miss instead *g*

In the fall of 2005, I was really close to wanting to give up. The line I'd been targeting had closed - right before they bought my book (an offer was pending). The agent I had such high hopes for didn't work out and firing her not only made me feel like a loser, the ire from fellow writers at my nerve to fire an agent when so many were trying to find one was horrible. I had my hands full with two kids, homeschool, my own business, and so many other things that demanded my time and energy and I wasn't getting anywhere - I thought -with the writing.

It was like our discussions here about weight loss. We do all the right things. We try, we put so much of ourselves and our hopes into success... and we keep hitting roadblocks. Or backsliding. Or just not seeing progress. That's how I felt.

That December, as I sat down to make my new year's goals, I took down my index card. I'd promised myself I'd give it 4 years. And the 4 years were up.

But... if I gave up, I'd fail. Did I mention how much I hate failure?

So I tacked that index card back on the board, justifying that 4 years wasn't until February 2006, after all, so I still had time. And in March, I justified that I was really close to and just needed to keep on trying. And in May I shifted my picture of Captain Jack Sparrow a little to the left so he covered part of that index card so I didn't have to be reminded of it.

And on May 29, 2006 I sold my first book.

But if I'd given up when things were so dismal and falling apart, that wouldn't have happened.

Our main focus here at Healthy Writer is on the health side -weight loss, exercise, nutrition. But we're writers and that can't be ignored. I've come to realize that just as hard as it was to deal with all those misses and ups and downs as I worked toward my goal of selling my first book, it'll be that hard to stay on track to reach my health goals. I never gave up on the writing. And I won't give up on being a healthy writer.

Because the only way to fail is to quit trying.

So... what do you think? Can you buy into the non-failure mindset? Did Dr. Dyer's 4 steps resonate with you?

Tawny Weber writes hot, spicy stories for Harlequin Blaze. In January 2010, her novella, YOU HAVE TO KISS A LOT OF FROGS, was out in the Blazing Bedtime Story anthology and her next full length Blaze,, RIDING THE WAVES, will be out in September 2010. Come by and visit her on the web at


Sally Kilpatrick on June 3, 2010 at 7:14 AM said...

Tawny, I think you've hit the nail on the head. The longer I live, I discover that life is not a classroom. As a student, I could excel; I could come up with grades that were, like Mary Poppins, practically perfect in every way. In life, the idea is to keep going. It's almost as though anything you tackle, from writing to exercise, is an endurance race.

Excellent thoughts. And I'm a big fan for having Johnny Depp up for any reason.

Trish Milburn on June 3, 2010 at 8:04 AM said...

Sally, you hit on something I've felt before. I did well in school because I worked hard. So when it took me 11 years to sell my first book, there were many, many times along that journey that it would have been so much easier to quit. It was so frustrating and heartbreaking that no matter how hard I worked, I wasn't reaching my goals.

But like Tawny said, I kept pushing past that somehow and finally sold. That doesn't mean everything has been easy-peasy since then. It hasn't. But I still keep pushing through because I won't accept seeing myself quit.

And, Tawny, cool! You sold your first book on my birthday. :)

Michelle Butler on June 3, 2010 at 1:11 PM said...

I've not read Dr. Dwyer's books, but I would interpret #4 a bit differently. It makes me think about how I define success and failure. I would think of it more as focus on the journey than the destinations, the process not the outcomes. I would even argue that sometimes the best thing you can do is quit trying. There are some things you can't change - the whole serenity prayer thing.

This was a hard lesson for me to learn, and it is an art form in a way - recognizing what you can change and recognizing what you can not - what you need to accept. There's also recognizing the value of the question - at what price is that success earned? I'm an overachiever who has surrounded herself with overachievers - and the first time an overachiever experiences failure is very, very ugly. But, it may ultimately teach that overachiever all that she/he is suffering from her other overachieving successes.

I don't attend to give up my pursuit of achieving a healthy weight/BMI. I've not even reached that point of obsessing about selling a book, but I'm not planning on giving up writing. I know I need to be very self-aware of myself, what am I doing, am I trying to undercut or sabotage myself, can I do more, etc.

But, dreams can change. If you want to see a great fiction take on that, read Nora Roberts's Dream Trilogy. It helped me greatly. The summer between my first and second years of grad school was also my summer of Nora - the first time I really got why folks loved her. I read all the single titles out at that point and a decent amount of her longer category. I often joke that she was my therapist that summer because she helped me find the courage to give up one dream (that was destroying me) and replace it with another.

Tawny on June 3, 2010 at 4:07 PM said...

Sally, Johnny makes every day fun, huh? He's just so pretty *g*

I hear you on that struggle. Its so hard when we've been conditioned to expect that hard work, meeting expectations and diligent focus will net results.

I laughed last night -after I'd written this blog my daughter came in upset because one of her video game creatures was "sick". Together we researched the 'cure', which was to visit the healing springs. She visited, no cure. We did more research. Apparently at each visit, the healing fairy would say a cure spell. But you never knew what random spell she'd say - so you had to revisit over and over until she just happened to say the right one. To add to it, she wouldn't say a spell if you'd visited in the last half hour.

I was impressed... talk about teaching the art of not giving up!!!

Tawny on June 3, 2010 at 4:10 PM said...

Trish :-D I totally forgot that I sold on your birthday! I love that!!! It just adds to how special it was.

I hear you on things not getting any easier after that first sale. Its a whole new world to learn and navigate and figure out how to play in. And it definitely has more challenges. But like you said, we just won't quit. And I think there's something empowering in knowing we've crossed one hurdle (selling) that keeps us believing that we'll keep crossing them.

One of the first things I do when teaching my goal setting class is to have people list goals they've accomplished. Its always easier to believe you can do something if you see you've already done other things *g*

Tawny on June 3, 2010 at 4:13 PM said...

Michelle, those are definitely powerful lessons :-)

I think you're post sounds so much like step 3 -being willing to do whatever it takes. You've outlined what your priorities are, what you'll do and accept in your journey to reach your goals and what you're not willing to carry with you.

I love Nora's Dream trilogy. I've been reading her work since she started writing for Silhouette and always find something empowering and inspiring in her characters lessons and growth.

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