Friday, November 13, 2009

Make Lots of Mistakes!!!

I've read lots of posts lately by other bloggers on blogs I love to read, answering questions from readers about how they know when their manuscript is ready, how important it is to have a critique group, things they wished they knew when they were starting, things never to do....etc...Well, this is not one of those posts.

This post is going to encourage you to make mistakes.

Big ones.

See, the thing is, even learning the ropes from other writers isn't good enough. It's like someone telling you how to ride a bike, or your mom giving you advice about love and crushes when you are a teen-ager. You just won't know how to do it until YOU jump on that bike and fall off, until YOU feel butterflies in your stomach every time you see him walk by and then he dumps you before Valentine's Day so he won't have to buy you a gift.

You have to make you own mistakes to learn. Because, really, you will NEVER understand what you need to do to be a better writer until you do. Sorry, but you're probably going to have to query too early with a manuscript that in a few years will make you cringe and become known as "the Drawer Novel". But that's okay, because you will never believe that it is a drawer novel until the publishing world claims it is. (And sometimes, people have been so good in their past lives or something like that, and they don't even HAVE to go through the drawer novel stage. but you will never know, NEVER unless you just take risk and send it off.) Take your character down a new path. Try writing in a new POV, or a new genre. Don't fear the unknown. Don't you want to be like Indiana Jones and have a snake story? You'll never have a snake story ("Why did it have to be snakes.....") and get to shake your fist in despair at the sky, while knowingly winking at others, unless you take the chance and follow your heart.

So, go ahead.

Make the mistakes that only you can make. Learn from them. Embrace them. Take them to lunch and buy them a nice salad and a carrot raisin muffin.

You have to be willing to risk to learn.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained.


P.S. Yes, I make lots of mistakes. I'll post about them another day. But know this, I have several books published and I still love writing, so the whole mistake thing seems to be working out for me.


Joshua McCune said...

For some reason this post's title made me think of The Little Miss Sunshine grandfather's famous line... "___ lots of women." I'm not sure what's wrong w/ me :)

WV: wouldn't you know -- mated

Susan R. Mills said...

Hmm... permission to make mistakes? I like that.

L. T. Host said...

Thanks for this Mary :)

I like making mistakes. Every learning opportunity is an opportunity.

Not that I TRY to make mistakes. But when they happen, well, take the best you can get from them, eh?

Corey Schwartz said...

Terrific post, Shelley.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

It is hard for me to make mistakes--the perfectionist inside gets all hissy fits. But you are right that it is better than doing nothing because of fear of mistakes. That's one reason I'm doing NaNo. I'm hoping it shuts up the critic and let's me dance through a story. We shall see. In the meantime, thanks for this important piece of advice.

Catherine Denton said...

What timing! Thank you.

J.A. Palermo said...

So true.

Renee Collins said...

Amen, amen, amen!!

Great post! And something we writers really need to hear sometimes. I think we can be so afraid to break rules or do anything wrong that it can be quite paralyzing. Sometimes the only thing we can do is plunge in.

lisa and laura said...

Oh gosh, how have you managed to make mistakes inspiring? I'm impressed, Shelley.

Jessie Oliveros said...

This was a good post for me to read right now. And dumping before V-day to avoid the present? Now is that made up or a Shelley story?

Wendy Sparrow said...

Yay for mistakes!!!

I'm a perfectionist too, but I can often find a "spin" on mistakes to make them look less mistakey. :)

storyqueen said...

Bane-Hahahahaha! Now whenever I see this post, I'll think the same thing too!

Susan-permission granted.

L.T.-yep. Mistake=Opportunity

Corey-Aw, thanks.

Tricia-I think the ability to risk it all is what pushes us to get better.

Catherine-you're welcome!

J.A.-Thanks for stopping by! come back any time.

Renee-I tend to be a rule follower, for the most part, but sometimes....well, you just have to go for it.

LiLa-Thank you....did you like the post enough to buy me a kindle?

Jessis-No, the Valentine's story didn't happen to me exactly. I used to sit in History class in front of this guy who would breakup with his girlfriend before every major holiday so he wouldn't have to buy her a present. It didn't matter how many people told her he was a jerk....she kind of had to learn that lessons on her own. So, um, I stole the story for my post.....

Wendy-Ah, yes, the not-so-mistakey-spin....genius!

MG Higgins said...

So true! Even if I'd been told I shouldn't send my first manuscript too soon, I would have. Now I won't do it again because I've learned from experience. Excellent post!

Clementine said...

What a great post! You know, it IS intimidating when you submit that first manuscript. I could fill up a week of posts with the mistakes I've made, but you're exactly right. Until I made them myself, I couldn't grow. I could read about the pitfalls of others all day long, but unless I fall into the pit, I won't learn. Scary, but true.

Kim said...

LOVE this! I used to start my school year off having the kids write their expectations. Then I'd tell them mine. They always thought I was crazy when I'd say, "I expect you to make mistakes." After, I'd read them The Empty Pot to reinforce the ideas of honesty, perseverance and trying your best. Guess I should go back and read that book again. Thanks for the kick in the pants, Shelley!

Anne Spollen said...

Great post! Yes, you're right, of course. This is the kind of post you read and say, "I knew this somehow, but never quite put it that way." Important to remember --