Learning that 90% is crap. And that's OK
A few weeks ago in my post about confidence (and chaos!), I mentioned that I was about to start a creative writing class with my mum.
This time last year I had written 4 and a bit chapters of a children’s book about a Frog Boy. I was really pleased with what I had come up with so far, well the first 2 chapters anyway. Then I showed it to Mike who made some notes on it but because he wasn’t gushing about how great it was, I assumed it was bad.
Obviously, rather than just ask him what he thought for fear of hearing ‘the truth’, I then lost all faith and confidence and decided it was rubbish.
Creative Writing Class
Fast forward a year and last night was our 4th creative writing class. I am totally loving it.
I was nervous because I have perfectionist tendencies and a fear of failure/rejection/embarrassing myself so this was going to challenge my concept of perfect.
I have to drive for an hour to get there, and it runs from 6-9pm. As in, at night. When I’m normally in bed.
But I love, love, love it!
Each week we are given some homework and then we take it in turns to read out what we’ve done in class and offer our thoughts on the piece.
This is incredibly nerve-racking and while I enjoy doing the homework, reading it out in class is terrifying. But the process, in only a few short weeks, has helped me get over two important things:
When I’m doing my homework, I don’t always put two and two together and fully imagine myself reading the piece in public. This week’s piece, entitled “My Delicious Hole”, is a prime example. Like what was I thinking?!
As a result my mum and I ended up virtually rolling around on the floor incapable of keeping it together – and this was even before I’d started reading the piece which, in my opinion, was also terrible.
The prompt was “I dug a hole in my room” and we could choose from a number of difference characters.
Here it is what I did in all its wonder…
My Lovely Hole
(renamed just before from Delicious Hole… but this was hardly better!!)
I was in the dog house. Literally. The bed with walls that stop me getting out.
When my favourite women, who I love more than anything in the world because she’s so amazing, came home she put me in there. She shouted and cried and called me a ‘bad dog’. Then she called my favourite man, who I love more than anything in the world because he’s so amazing, and shouted down the phone to him.
I guess she didn’t like my creation afterall. I thought she would love it and pat me and give me treats and maybe even a new bed. How wrong could I be?
It all started with the cats. They were in my room chasing around a bit of a floor tile that had chipped off. I went to sniff the space it had left. It smelt so good, like old food mixed with sand and I just really wanted to sniff it some more. So, I scratched a bit to release more of that heavenly smell. That’s when I found I quite liked the taste too. I licked and bit at the crack, then scratched and sniffed some more.
I don’t know how long I was scratching and biting at that little crack, but it was becoming a bigger and bigger crack. It was intoxicating, so I just kept doing it.
The cats came to watch for a while, and by this point the dust was all over me. I stopped and gave them both a sniff. Not as nice as my hole!
I was exhausted from all my hard work so I stopped for a nap and continued to dream about my delicious hole. I dreamt about digging all the way out of the house and how much my favourite man and woman, who I love more than anything in the world because they are so amazing, would love my hole. So practical and they would declare me a ‘good dog’.
But they didn’t love my hole. Perhaps because I never did make it all the way out the house.
I decided to try again tomorrow.
Shocking!! But already, the process of reading aloud and putting my work out there has made ’embarrassment’ and ‘fear of failure’ vanish from my head.
Yes, I’m embarrassed and nervous to read but once it’s over, so are those feelings.
I’ve stopped caring so much about what people think of me and I can fully laugh at what I wrote and I don’t mind that it’s not the best piece in the world.
As Jennifer Connolly says to David Bowie in The Labyrinth… so I say to embarrassment…
“You have no power over me!”
I’ve been embarrassing myself all my life! I’d just forgotten how good it feels.
From Show Your Work: Sturgeon’s Law – 90% of everything is crap!
This is a serious improvement for me. I always want everything I do to be the best I’ve ever done but that attitude stops you producing things, trying new ideas and just getting on and sharing what you’re up to.
So in the space of 3 weeks I feel like I’ve learnt so much. I’m much more relaxed about what I’m producing and I feel liberated to make mistakes and a bit of a fool of myself.
I’d recommend it to anyone who’s been umming and ahhing about starting something ‘properly’.
Do. A. Course.
Confidence comes from action
And sitting alone at home toiling over something we will never show anyone, isn’t going to get you or me closer to our dreams.
Show your Work
Now my fear of embarrassment and perfectionism is starting wane, I have reopened the box that says “Children’s Author” in my head and I’m allowing myself to dream of it again.
But how does that ambition fit with my blog? It doesn’t seem to match up anymore, I’m a parenting blogger, right? So I’ve been pondering the idea this week.
I’ve started to write a daily journal in the morning (I get up at 5am so I can have a bit of calm and quiet before the rest of the house wakes and makes things bonkers – it’s called the Miracle Morning but more on this soon!) and this is what I wrote on Tuesday:
I’m sitting here thinking about my blog – I’ve not written anything for it since Friday. I wish I could get my act together and come up with a way to make that process easier. Every article or video, etc I do takes hours, which isn’t really sustainable. I want it to be a place where I can share what I’m working on, not BE the thing I’m working on… I must find and re-read Show Your Work. It’ll be under the stairs somewhere, I’m going to dig it out this morning…
I did go and dig it out and it’s helped me remember that all of this is about me and my work, and the process not the product. And in any case, my blog is no longer the product as I’m not interested in being a “professional blogger” anymore.
So whether I’m talking about my garden, the kids, what we had for tea, or the terrible piece I wrote for creative writing class – it all comes back to me writing stuff, you finding it and hopefully liking/relating to it, and together we connect and support each other in reaching our goals.
And p.s. not everything I share has to be written on this blog – it can be a photo on instagram or a conversation started on Facebook. The important thing is to connect.
Remember when you were at school and you couldn’t show anyone your workings in case they copy you? Or later when, perhaps at college or work, you had to show a finished polished essay but none of your earlier drafts?
Well this is the opposite!
I am not an expert in anything and certainly not creative writing – but it’s what I want to work on, so therefore I’m going to show my work as I go along.
This week I reread my story about the Frog Boy and, you know what? I think it’s OK! – definitely work to do, for example I really struggle to describe things well, but the premise, I believe, shows potential. I even read the first two chapters to Gabby and she liked it!
So, I think in the weeks to come I’m going to start showing that work to see what you think. Eeeek!
What are you working on that you need to start showing?
Whether it’s a passion project or something you want to make the big bucks, I’d love to hear about it and maybe we can support each other! Leave a comment below or come and join the convo over on the Mums’ Days Facebook Page. I also post stuff on Instagram.
I’ll leave you with this clip as a reminder of what to say to Embarrassment!
Filed under> > Time for Mum