Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Failing Your Way to Success by Sherri Shackelford

Sherri Shackelford
I know what you’re all thinking, “Oh boy, here she goes again!” I see your point, it’s a lot more fun to hear about success than failure. We’ll get to that soon. First, we’re starting with the “F” word. Instead of talking about things that increase your productivity, we’re talking about roadblocks.

The other day I was sitting on a panel of professional writers. When I introduced myself, I said, “I’m here because I’ve failed. A lot.”  

The gentlemen next to me nearly fell off his chair.

The same gentlemen assured the audience that “writing should be fun” and “if it’s not fun, you should quit.” Um. Really. What kind of professional author gives that advice? No one tells a professional nurse, “Quit if it’s not fun!” Sure, there are days when I really enjoy my job. And then there are days when I want to curl up in a ball and hide under my desk. I’m pretty sure there’d be no healthcare if we told nurses and doctors to quit “when it’s not fun anymore!”  

If you’re a writer and you’re having fun every minute of the day, more power to you. If you’re not, join the club!

If writing is your hobby, by all means, write only when it’s fun. If writing is your profession, then sit yourself in a chair, plant your fingers on the keyboard, and work through the pain. Also, if you want to be more productive, get used to failure.

But not too used to failure.

I’m not the best writer out there. (Some of you are elbowing each other and saying, “uh huh!”) I’ve critiqued with unpublished writers who were far more talented. Fear of success has derailed as many writers as fear of failure.

Failure can become just as addictive as anything else. I’ve taken my turn as the ‘victim’. We’ve all met *that* writer, the one for whom nothing ever goes their way. Terrible writers get contracts and brilliant writers get passed over. The system isn’t fair, so why try harder?

The Stairway to Success
The system is not fair. What system is? The publishing world is flawed. Certain stories inexplicably sell 100 million copies, while perfectly wonderful stories languish in oblivion. Not. Fair. Sometimes it feels like everything and everyone is against you. Feel bad, then move on. Don’t create a self-fulfilling prophesy. If a parade is coming down the street, and you run out in front of it, that doesn’t mean the marching band is following you.

Is failing in your productivity telling you to work harder, or letting you know you’re in the wrong place?

This is the most difficult category of all. Sometimes, we don’t know what’s good for us. In my twenties, I wanted to work in healthcare. I wanted a fulfilling job that also paid money. Turns out, I don’t like sick people. I should have been fulfilled, instead I was sort of annoyed with all the, “Blah, blah, blah, I’m sick.” I had gotten exactly the job I wanted, and I hated it.

Which was embarrassing. People were confused. “Why did you go to school for a job you hate?”

Just stupid, I guess.

You know what’s even dumber? Hanging out in a profession you loathe. Life is short. I’ve been to four funerals since September. Even if you do something you enjoy, it’s not going to be sunshine and daisies 24/7. But if it’s rainclouds and thunder 24/7, it’s time to rethink.

If you’re hitting a brick wall, if you’re muse has deserted you, if productivity is simply a word in the dictionary, rethink your strategy. Maybe you’re targeting the wrong genre. If you heard xyz was selling like crazy, so you started writing xyz, but now your muse has taken a slow train to China…You know where I’m going with this.


Is failing in your productivity goals telling you to dig deeper?

If you have twenty stories that have great starts, but you’ve never finished a single manuscript, then take a plotting class. Chances are, you don’t have enough conflict to maintain your story, and something deep in your brain knows it.

If you plot like crazy, but can’t get past the middle, invite your closest friend to coffee and have a heart-to-heart conversation. Chances are, something mental is holding you back. Fear of success, fear of failure, fear that people will laugh, fear that you’ll get bad reviews. Ask your bestie if she has any insight. I can always spot what’s holding others back, but I don’t have that kind of insight for myself.

How does a person use failure as a launching pad to productivity?

Remember that article from a few weeks back, the one with the successful cupcake woman who sold icing? She totally failed first. She lost her money and her business. She rethought her strategy. She figured out the things she liked about cupcakes, and the things she didn’t like. She figured out how to monetize her idea.

She could have thrown her hands in the air, but she didn’t. (also, throwing her hands in the air would be gross)

You don’t ‘find’ time to write, you ‘make’ time to write. If you’re failing to find writing time each day, figure out why you don’t think you deserve that time. No one has more hours in the day than someone else. People who are far busier than me are way more productive.

Women are notorious for saying ‘yes’ to everything and putting everyone else ahead of their needs. I’ll tell you what, my husband doesn’t give a flying leap whether or not the PTA President likes him. He’s not volunteering for the party if he doesn’t have the time. Be like my husband. Say, ‘no’. Your value is not dependent on how many times you say ‘yes’.

It’s okay to take time for yourself.

Really.

I give you permission.

Go and be productive.

Did you spot anything that may be sabotaging your productivity goals?

Leave a comment for a chance to win one of two copies of The Engagement Bargain.
~~~~
The Engagement Bargain
Make-believe betrothal 

Rock-solid and reliable, confirmed bachelor Caleb McCoy thought nothing could rattle him—until he discovers he needs to pose as Anna Bishop's intended groom. After saving her life, his honorable code bid Caleb watch over the innocent beauty. And a pretend engagement is the only way to protect her from further harm. 

Raised by a single mother and suffragist, Anna doesn't think much of marriage—and she certainly doesn't plan to try it herself. But playing Caleb's blushing bride-to-be makes her rethink her independent ways, because their make-believe romance is becoming far too real… 
~~~~
Sherri Shackelford is an award-winning author of inspirational, Christian romance.
A wife and mother of three, Sherri’s hobbies include collecting mismatched socks, discovering new ways to avoid cleaning, and standing in the middle of the room while thinking, “Why did I just come in here?” A reformed pessimist and recent hopeful romantic, Sherri has a passion for writing. Her books are fun and fast-paced, with plenty of heart and soul.
Sherri is currently working on three more books for her Cimarron Springs series. Her current books include: Winning the Widow’s Heart, The Marshal’s Ready-Made Family, The Cattleman Meets His Match, and The Engagement Bargain.  




104 comments:

Helen Gray said...

Your books sound like fun, Sherri.

Failure is not fun, but it sure is educational. :)

Coffee is fun for some. So there's plenty brewing.

Linda Sammaritan said...

Looks like I'm due for a heart-to-heart with my BFF. Thanks for the insights, Sherri.

Marianne Barkman said...

Reading is fun...but I knew writing isn't. I look forward to reading your latest book, Sherri. Please put my name in the drawing. Thank you. Helen, has anyone told you lately that YOU ROCK?!!!! Thanks for always putting the coffee on.

Melissa Jagears said...

Okay, this may be my favorite Seekerville post ever. :)

There's a lot of silly advice out there: everyone in this room has writing talent because you're here attending conference, write only if it's fun, If God's not calling you to write turn in your pen, etc. etc.

If it's glib, it's probably a fib.

Fail again, fail better!

Huzaah! (Wait, is that the marine yell? My army husband will likely kill me if he knew I just typed that....what's the army grunt/noise?)

Mary Preston said...

A fabulous post thank you. Lots of truths.

Keli Gwyn said...

Thanks for the excellent post, Sherri. Writing can be fun, but it can also be challenging. I think of it as a labor of love. There is hard work involved. There are times when the dreaded D's invade: doubt, discouragement, disappointment. In spite of the tough times and the less than thrilling days, I still love being a writer.

Your story sounds great. The February LIHs have hit the shelves at my local Walmart. I'll have to grab a copy.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Brava! Well said.

Everyone wants to have written a book.

Shoot me now if writing is easy.

Speedbo on, Team Seekerville!

Tina Radcliffe said...

I was Army. I didn't grunt.

Does the Army grunt?

They call the infantry grunts.

Hmm, I am so confused, MJ.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

This is an excellent post. A super-duper excellent post. Jobs shouldn't always be easy, not if you're breathing, because life interferes/intervenes... and we still have to work, even when we'd rather shop, sleep, clean (I'm totally kidding there) paint, visit, walk the dog, get our nails done... it's a job and needs the attention of a job.

You nailed this.

Thank you.

Although I do LOVE IT. I'm never afraid to say that, I literally waited all my life to do it, and even on the "Ruth, this manuscript sucks, can you rewrite the whole book this week, please?" days... I love writing. It's like Ruthy---unleashed.

But it isn't easy and you need nerves of steel and a backbone to say 'no'... and to know when to say yes!!!

Cindy W. said...

Thank you for the wonderful post Sheri. Failure in anything isn't easy but if we learn from it, it is well worth the fall. It is when we continue to fail without learning anything that it's time to reevaluate and possibly move on.

Your book sounds wonderful and I would love to win a copy.

Everyone have a wonderful day. Go Speedbo!

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.

Jess said...

What a great post! Love it and yep, life is short! Reaching for goals you don't want is a waste of time.

Reaching for goals you do want and going through the pain, well that's good but it sucks too...until you're through the pain! :)

Thanks again!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Army cheer: Hoo rah! In deep, throaty, rumbling voices.

Possibly grunt-like. Maybe.

I just cheer from the sidelines. God bless our military!





Jackie said...

I try to learn from my failures.
I really needed your post today. I'm catching a cold and last night started doubting myself. (Blaming it on feeling bad blah, blah, blah. :) ) Then I wondered how long I've been doing this. Glad I don't know for sure.

This morning I read, "Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the lord is not in vain." 1 Corinthians 15:58

Your post was the icing on the cake as I start day 3 of Speedbo. Thanks, Sherri!

Mary Hicks said...

Good, sound advice. :-) I agree with all the above.

I love painting, too. But sometimes when I've already spent the commission money, and I know that I have to deliver the painting soon, I have no options. That's when my left hand takes my right hand and drags me into the studio.

When you have deadlines, you don't have options.

Word count for Monday: 1073

I have to be gone all day today—leaving the house at 7:00 am. :-\ Wahhh . . .

Julie Hilton Steele said...

I think we tend to focus on shut doors too much and not look at what they are telling us. We just look for the open window when we really need to think a bit deeper about what caused the closed door.

Thanks for making me think...before coffee even.

Peace, Julie

Rose said...

Hi Sherri!

Great post and advice.

I was at a speaking engagement, and of course, was asked that age old question. How do you work a day job and find time to write?

When I answered: "Writing is my dream so I make time for it by saying no to many social and organization activities." There was a collective gasp in the room.

The ladies in that session would have loved the gentleman you mentioned. They wanted writing to be fun and easy. When in reality writing takes a LOT of time.

Good luck with your current release!

DebH said...

Sherri-
Thank you for your post today. With your help, I can admit to what I know is holding me back. My entry into the Killer Voice contest last year was me testing the waters to see if I had the chops to actually write. Um, being a finalist apparently means I do. Since? A struggle. I don't give myself permission to take the time I need to write. I don't believe I deserve to pursue writing because I need to take care of my husband and son. Am I being stupid?

I'm doing Speedbo - to get in the habit and give myself permission to pursue writing. I know God has brought Seekerville into my world for a reason and posts here are SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO right on with what I need to read and ruminate on. Like today's post. Fodder for thought - deeeeeeep thought. I like your forthright honesty. I'll take that any day over fluff.

Jeanne T said...

Sherri, I love this post. We often learn and we succeed by failing. But, we also have to put the work in. And I agree with you...if you hate what you're doing, it might be time to find a way out.

Making time for writing is a choice. And I love that you said we are worth it. We are worth giving ourselves time to pursue our dream. Thanks for that affirmation.

Your book sounds like a fun read. :) Love the premise!

Audra Harders said...

Such wonderful wisdom, Sherri! The road to publication is difficult, and yes, even the best fail! But, if you persevere, the joy that comes will outshine the disappointments, hands down!!! (I agree, no throwing of hands in the air...gross!)

I, too, found GREAT inspiration in the cupcake lady. Try - fall - try again - success - fall again - and finally, rejoice in the happiness of your diligence!!!

Thanks for the wonderful inspiration, Sherri. I've failed quite a bit, too. I've even tried quitting. I can't though, walking away is not in me.

The gentleman who sat beside you on that panel told people what they wanted to hear - he gave them a way out.

Only a true friend will slap you silly, wag their finger in your face and tell you to get to work (does that bring any Seeker name to mind?).

And then, of course, smother you in chocolates : )

Enjoy your day in Seekerville!!!

Dana McNeely said...

Yes, this is an excellent post because it is real, encouraging, and helpful. Sometimes hearing about an author's success isn't helpful because it sounds like it happened overnight. You've reminded us that there are a lot of untold failures during that long midnight wait. I appreciate this type of encouragement to keep at it in the face of failures--and to keep looking for a way around our roadblocks.

I realize I'm a SLOW writer. So I've set myself a goal to write every day and find more time to write. My normal time is 2 hours before work each morning. This week, I'm taking Friday off from work for a writing day. Last night I skipped two hours of TV with hubby and wrote. It feels good. :)

Becky Dempsey said...

Thank you! This line especially hit home with me...."If you’re failing to find writing time each day, figure out why you don’t think you deserve that time." I have to work on that!

Jill Weatherholt said...

Wonderful post, Sherri. The ladies here at Seekerville make writing seem easy with all of their wonderful books. In reality, it's a lot of hard work. If we don't enjoy it, what's the point? I love the premise of your book. Congratulations!

Connie Queen said...

"If a parade is coming down the street, and you run out in front of it, that doesn’t mean the marching band is following you."

This cracked me up.

I love this post. Everything is so true especially the part about your husband not worrying about the PTA. :)

Please toss my name into the hat for your book. Sounds cute!

Janet Dean said...

Good morning, Sherri! Thanks for this post. Excellent points all!

As a clueless newbie, who was having great fun writing, I remember the shock of hearing a longtime published author say writing was work, not fun. I've understood since that the more you know, the more you expect of yourself. Once published, deadlines and that tightrope of balance we try to walk can be daunting at times. But, then so can any job worth doing.

Who was the author who said something like this?: I don't like to write. I like to have written. A book on the shelf costs us. But it's worth every penny.

SpeedBo on!

Janet

Cindy Regnier said...

Lots of good insight Sherri. I started thinking about that F word last night as I was accomplishing my Speedbo goal. I made the goal (1000 words), but those words were total drivel. Words that I could count and not much more. I wanted to delete them, but in true Speedbo fashion, I did not. Maybe someday I can edit them into something meaningful. And if not, chalk it up to one of those times that isn't so much fun, maybe even a fail. When it IS fun, flowing and fantastic, it makes all those fail times so worth it!

Sherri Shackelford said...

Helen - Thank goodness for coffee!!

Linda - I wrote this post for myself - and it actually kinda helped me figure some things out :) BFFs are the best!

Marianne - Writing is tough for me. But I can't stop! I wish I were more like Ruthy and Mary C.

Wilani Wahl said...

Failure is most certainly a way to learn. Not a fun way but an important one. Thanks for this post please include me in the drawing for your book.

I need to get to writing. Yesterday was a great day with 2,342 words. Hoping for another great day

Sherri Shackelford said...

Melissa - I *just* read an article Chip posted and the MBA instructor said, "If you weren't writing in your teens, you're not a real writer." (I'm paraphrasing) But I thought, "Oh no! I didn't start writing until my laaaate thirties." Not gonna let that guy tell me what I am/am not!

Mary - thank you for stopping by!

Keli - I wouldn't be anything else! I can't be anything but a writer...I've tried! Believe me, I've tried.

Sally Shupe said...

Go and be productive! I love that. My routine is what gets me. I come home from work, have a list of things to do. By the time that's done, I'm ready for sleep. So I decided, once it's quiet and everyone's gone off to bed, (my husband gets up at 1am so he goes fairly early), I will plant myself in front of the laptop and write. I have 2000 words so far in March. I'm hoping that keeps going up this month! I would love to entered for a copy of your book. Love your books, but haven't read this one yet.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Sherri and welcome to Seekerville. Great post with lots of thought provoking questions. Thanks for sharing with us and giving us that kick in the behind to get going or question why?

Have fun today.

Sherri Shackelford said...

Tina - More people would write books - they just don't have the time! (hee hee)

Ruth - that's why Seekerville is great for people like me - I struggle with doubt allllllll the time. I'm always waiting for someone to pull back the curtain and shout, "Ah hah!"

Cindy - Sad to say, sometimes I have to hit that wall a few times before I figure it out..and some walls I'm still hitting...

Sherri Shackelford said...

Jess - there's nothin' better than writing 'the end', is there? Sometimes I have to coach myself - "You've done it before, you can do it again."

Jennifer Delamere said...

This post was just what I needed, Sherri! After I sold my first book and got into a contract with real deadlines, there were LOTS of times when writing wasn't "fun." Far too many, I thought. Now I am re-thinking things. Pretty much everything you said struck a chord somewhere in my life and writing. Thank you for these tremendous insights.

Sherida Stewart said...

YES, Sherri! I started college thinking I'd be a nurse, but ended up being a teacher...perfect for me.....yes, not perfect every moment, but the reward at the end of the day of smiles and learning was SO WORTH the stormy times.

Writing feels right! I'm learning the craft, fellowshiping with other writers, learning to make time for myself, and having fun!

Thanks for your thoughts.....and I'm off to make more progress.

Happy #Speedbo-ing to all!

Sherri Shackelford said...

Jackie - Cheryl St.John has a great class called "Getting Rid of the Junk that Holds You Back." I have to take it every few years because I really let myself get wrapped around the axle on stuff.

Mary - I'm writing that down: When you have deadlines, you don't have options.

Julie - I'm one of those people who gets focused on a goal and gets tunnel vision. I have to be *really* careful sometimes with figuring stuff out.

Rose - EVERYONE search Seekerville for Rose's article on "Getting a Handle on Procrastination." Wonderful AND timely!!

DebH - I don't use the word 'deserve' very often - but you deserve the time to write and follow your dreams! You deserve to be successful!!!

Jeanne - I've been wanting to write in other genres. When I look around and see how many authors are doing it - I think, "Okay, maybe I can do this.."

Kav said...

Love this!!! You know the saying "learn by doing"? Well that's me -- only I learn by doing it wrong first. And mercy, but there's a whole lot of wrong-doing potential in writing. I have first hand experience on that. LOL

Bettie said...

What a wonderful article! I found it very encouraging and your book sounds like a fun adventure. I'm halfway through my goal for today thanks to a snow/ice day off from teaching.

Sherri Shackelford said...

DEEP THOUGHT..

Here's my litmus test: Would I say to my daughter what I say to myself?

For example:

"No, honey, don't invest in your dreams. Bake cupcakes for the PTA instead."

No. I'd say, "Buy the cupcakes. Take the time. Everyone is happy."

Would I say, "No, honey. You're not worth an hour each evening. Don't take that time for yourself and write. Clean the shower instead."

Of course not! If you wouldn't say it to someone you love, don't say it to yourself!!!

Debra Clopton said...

Great Post Audra-lol it hit a nerve! :)
Writing is work. Hard Work. BUT you can only do it and persevere if you love it. The love, keeps you in it to win it. But God didn't say "here's the talent now bingo write that best seller" at least he didn't for me. He said, "the talent's in side of you like a pearl in an oyster, now you show me how hard you'll work to make it shine" I had to work my rump off for 13 years to sell that first manuscript and it wasn't always fun :) but I knew the dream was there. And when I wasn't sure about anything at all, my talent, God's plan, was I crazy? did I deserve to give myself some time to write each day? When all these questions were in my head I wrote because I just wanted to...hey maybe I like to torture myself, but I wrote.

I saw several say they wrote slow, I saw a post by a fellow writer who planned her year out and wrote a little every day except for the days she'd calculated in that she wouldn't be able to. I think her word count goal was 1200 a day. (which for me is slow- I try to write 2000 to 5000 every day but don't always make it and am not always consistent) well if you calculate 1200 by say for 300 days (days off) that's 360,000 words in a year. That's 4 80,000 word books and a novella-wow! do the math with smaller amounts and see the magic of consistency ! My 2015 goal after this April 1 deadline is more consistency.

Speedbo goal today for me is 7000 cuz it has to be :)and I can tell you that's not fun...but I love it! and I didn't start writing until I was in my 30's but I'm a writer-lol don't know who that guy is who said otherwise but he's a funny dude... he doesn't know what he's talking about but he's funny. Write on Seekerville :) set your goal, and push on! Hugs to all.

Myra Johnson said...

True words of wisdom here, SHERRI--thank you!

I have to echo HELEN: "Failure is not fun, but it sure is educational." Learning from what doesn't work is sometimes more valuable than success--in the long run, anyway.

Myra Johnson said...

BTW, I almost always "buy the cupcakes." Or the chips and dip. Or the pasta salad. The supermarket deli is my friend.

Carolyne Aarsen said...

Great post and very necessary. One of my favourite expressions goes - Good judgement comes from Experience. Experience comes from Poor Judgement. We learn when we make mistakes and that's okay. I've probably learned more from the books that I've written that made me tear my hair out and vow to go work at the IGA bagging groceries instead of write another one. It's okay for it not to be fun, for it to be hard. But yes, that balance is important. Sometimes we need to sit back and take stock and make some hard decisions. I love my job. I don't always love writing. And that's okay too.

Sherri Shackelford said...

Audra - I didn't even see that - but you're SO right! He gave them a way out. Wow. I'm going to more on the lookout in the future.

Dana - Woo hoo! You're already speedbo-ing - giving up that TV time for writing!!! That's awesome.

Becky - Don't listen to me - The ladies at Seekerville say you deserve that time!! Because you do :)

Cynthia Herron said...

Sherri--great tips! I found myself nodding my head many times. And it's so true that we women tend to get caught up in the "I must do it all" trap. A few years ago, I became more proactive with my time. Now when I'm approached with too many demands, my answer? "No, thank you. I'm afraid I'll have to pass." (Said in a Christ-like manner, of course, but very decisive.)

And I'd like to know the author who hasn't failed or missed the mark at least once. You're right on the money with your observations!

Great thoughts!

kaybee said...

I agree with HELEN too, about failure being educational. I have failed so many times, and the good thing? I never make the same mistake twice.
Good stuff.
KB

Sherri Shackelford said...

Jill - I don't know how the Seekerville ladies do it. Whenever I feel overwhelmed, I think about how many books Mary writes each year. Puts everything into perspective!

Connie - I have placed myself in front of the parade many a time - I'm sad to admit...

Janet - That's such a great point! We start expecting more from ourselves. Seekerville is good therapy for me - I think I'm at that point where I'm expecting more from myself, and not living up to my own expectations.

Sherri Shackelford said...

Cindy - I bet here's a lot more gold in those words than you think!

Wilani - Get outta here and go meet that writing goal!!

Sally - That's amazing! Especially after a long day when your mind is going a thousand different direction to sit down and focus. I hope you're giving yourself credit for a wonderful accomplishment!!!!

Mary Connealy said...

Sherri, this post if perfect for SPEEDBO MONTH.

We all have a strange...uh...predilection....is that the word I want? To be writers.

But just because it seems to come naturally to write doesn't mean it comes EASILY to write WELL.

There's so much to learn. So much hard work involved in getting good at it.

That's one of the things that worries me about indy pub. So often those books are GOOD stories poorly told.

And a little more abuse from a publisher or contest critiquer would make a huge difference.

kaybee said...

SHERRI, I agree about husbands not feeling guilty about PTA etc. They don't worry as much about how people judge their parenting, community involvement etc. I say don't worry "As much" because they have their own set of worries, especially if they are the main breadwinner, but anyway they do look at things differently than women do. I'm buying more cupcakes etc. because everyone I know is diabetic or on a diet, and I only bake now when I want to. Cutting back on the Things That Don't Matter, or Don't Matter As Much. To give more time to the Things That Do.
KB

Mary Connealy said...

Love the reports of accomplishments.
Anyone who wants the accountability CHECK IN!!!

kaybee said...

Still working my Speedbo story. Not stuck so much on the basic plot, I know Julia Mulcahey is going to rescue her long-lost daughter from the mobster, but still working on the "how." Have an extra hour this a.m. to work on it, yay.
KB

Debra Clopton said...

Uggg can y'all tell I'm a little stressed out this morning!

I meant Great Post SHERRI
lol I had one of Audra's great comments in my head when I posted my comment :)
ok back to writing for me

Sherri Shackelford said...

Sandra - You're an inspirational to all of us.

Jennifer - LOVE your books! I'm having a fan moment here....

Sherida - It's all good though, isn't it? I bet you learned things in nursing that helped you be a better teacher. Sometimes I have to remind myself that taking a different path doesn't mean I wasted that time.

Sherri Shackelford said...

Kav - That's what Neil Gaiman said, "The only way to do it. Is to do it."!
I need that reminder all the time!

Bettie - Go meet that goal! Then report back. We all need your inspiration!!!!

Debra - You're my idol! I think my best day of writing ever was around 6k words. I'm not fast...but hey, like you said, eventually I get a couple books a year written!

Sherri Shackelford said...

Myra - with all the allergies kids/people have these days, we're doing everyone a favor by buying deli with ingredients listed. We're SAVING LIVES! How noble is that?

Carolyn - That is such a great point. My husband has this great saying, "You know how you get twenty years experience? You work for twenty years." It's so stupid simple but so true.

Cynthia - You're my role model! It's okay to say, 'no'. :)

Barbara Scott said...

Sherri, I wish I had read your post on failure forty years ago. I was so thin-skinned then that I thought I was a failure when an editor criticized my manuscript and gave me comments when she sent it back. Duh! Then I became a professional book editor and realized how rare that is. Lesson learned.

Sherri Shackelford said...

Mary - I think we all agree that we love, love, love that indy pubbing has allowed stories to thrive that might never have seen the light of day. I love that I get to be a hybrid author. But it breaks my heart when I read a story that's sooooo close...but needed just what you said - that writer just needed a little more abuse :) Ha! That's perfect.

Kaybee - My husband never feels guilt over that kind of stuff - and he can't fathom why someone else might.

Okay, you're all sick of me now! I'm going to do a 40 minute sprint and give everyone a break :)

Connie Queen said...

I've gotten a slow start on my Speedbo BUT I have more time the rest of this week to get caught up.

Wasn't going to enter the Genesis but I just finished getting an entry ready just in case I change my mind.

Now it's time to hit that new ms w/vigor.

Julie Lessman said...

APPLAUSE, APPLAUSE!!! Sherri, for telling it like it is, girlfriend!!

And the guy's line that: '"“writing should be fun” and “if it’s not fun, you should quit.”?

Sounds like a an independently wealthy guy with a wife who does a lot of the work and an assistant who does the rest. Like you, the first words that came into my mind was, "uh ... realllly???"

Failure is HOW we learn what we are doing wrong and HOW we finally succeed. And like Helen said, "Failure is not fun, but it sure is educational." :)

Thanks for the pep talk, sweetie -- onward and upward!

Hugs,
Julie

Bettie said...

Made it. Thanks for the encouragement. I'm working on my second book. The first one didn't go anywhere YET ...after trying a couple of revisions in a contest and with the contest publisher. I write small musicals for my church choir and for my kids at school. ..mostly fun but yes, sometimes it is very hard WORK. If you haven't looked back at the Goldilocks article you should give it a gander. It helped me get started this week.

Julie Lessman said...

MELISSA SAID: "Fail again, fail better!"

LOL, LOVE this too!!

TINA, I have no intention of shooting you, girlfriend ... just that guy on the panel ... ;)

And, DANA, move over, darlin' ... I'm a SLOW writer too, but we get there ... eventually. :)

Hugs,
Julie

Jennifer Delamere said...

Sherri, thank you so much for the kind words! The premise of your new book is awesome and I look forward to reading it. I love marriage-of-convenience stories, so this "engagement-of-convenience" sounds really fun!

Sandy Smith said...

Thanks, Sherri, for the encouragement. I think fear of failure is what often derails me.

Please enter me in the drawing.

barb said...

Great advice, Sherri! Thanks

kaybee said...

I agree with Melissa that there is a lot of silly advice out there, although I'd say it stronger: "Stupid advice." I was at a writers conference one time with a Literary Writer and a Commercial Magazine Writer on the same panel, and they got into a brawl about marketing and diversifying. What I took away from that panel was that there exists DIFFERENT KINDS OF ADVICE for different kinds of writing. My litmus test is God first and my crit partner and Seekerville sharing second. What I like for advice is the "It worked for me, see if it works for you" slant.
RE Failure: In my early career I made almost every mistake there is. Call editor's boss because he isn't responding fast enough? Check. Don't pay attention to requirements because "my story is different"? Check. Don't pay attention to structure because I want it to be organic? Check. Not believe an editor when she says, "Contact me with another project"? Check. I'm Poster Girl for what not to do, but I think I've got a handle on it now, there are only so many ways to fail.
KB

kaybee said...

AND...a big step for me was when I learned to look at contest feedback not as failure, but as an educational tool. I still don't like it when they're snarky, but CONSTRUCTIVE criticism is my lifeblood now.
Entering Genesis this week as soon as my Paypal deposit clears.
KB

Jamie Adams said...

Great post Sherri. I always enjoy reading what you have to share. Love the cover of your new book!

Jan Drexler said...

Anything worth doing is worth working hard for, isn't it? And when you work hard, you risk failure.

All right then. We fail. Of course we do!

The trick is to never let the failures defeat you. Learn from them and grow. Start again and succeed.

Great post, Sherri, and great timing. I didn't meet my first day's productivity goals for Speedbo yesterday, but I learned from that failure. :)

By the way - I walked into our local writer's group meeting last week, and Jen said, "How do you know Sherri Shackelford?" She had noticed we had you as a friend in common on Facebook! So small world time, Sherri. And Jen Blake is still recovering, I think!

Sherri Shackelford said...

Barbara - Revise & Resubmit is the best! But you're so right - we don't always realize that.

Connie - enter the Genesis! We'll watch for your name this spring :)

Julie - Lady in Red :)

Sherri Shackelford said...

Bettie - YES! Great article. Overcoming Goldilocks Syndrome by Tina Radcliffe. Search it on Seekerville! It's awesome.

Sandy - I feel your pain! Fear can be powerful. But so can we :)

Jan - It is a crazy small world! And those facebook connections are eerie. So glad to hear Jen is recovering. She's faced some tough obstacles.

Sherri Shackelford said...

Hi Barb! I always like seeing your smiling face :)

Sherri Shackelford said...

Jamie - That is my favorite cover so far! I love the dress and hat ;)

Kaybee - I don't agree with snarky contest feedback. The toughest critiques I've had have also been the kindest. It can be done!

Cheryl St.John said...

Sherri, let's have coffee. :-)

You always impress me with your perseverance. Anyone who gets up at 4am to finish the page count is a professional and DESERVES success.

Lyndee H said...

HI Sherri,
Thanks for the thoughtful post. I usually allow fear to sabotage my goals, so this year I've been addressing that head on by keeping a regular writing schedule. Just when I thought I was getting the hang of it, outside events started to threaten my progress. Every day is a learning experience. God isn't done with me yet. It's interesting to find that I'm learning to fight for my writing career.

Stephanie Queen Ludwig said...

Sherri, such great advice! NOTHING we do is going to be fun all of the time, and I include being a Christian in that. Thanks for the kick in the pants to remind me to get to my writing during my lunch break today.

P.S. I love that you admit you're a failure. Only the best writers are! Love ya!

Carol Garvin said...

Such great advice! Thanks, Sherri. I'm working with both Speedbo and MarchMadness this month and grabbing motivation and inspiration from both. Now, with a cup of Helen's coffee in one hand and my pen in the other, I'm off to figure out a couple plot glitches. You're SO right. When challenges come up we need to treat them like roadblocks. Either power through them, go over or around them, or find a suitable detour! :)

Vince said...

As Myra so wisely advises:
we (Speedboites) should be writing and not posting.


So I'll keep it pithy.

"The subtext of saying yes is often saying no to your writing time".

"Success builds from one's ability to turn stumbling blocks into stepping stones."

"It is only failure if you didn't learn anything from it."


Please enter my name into the cat dish.

Pam Hillman said...

If a parade is coming down the street, and you run out in front of it, that doesn’t mean the marching band is following you.

Well, it might if you're Barney Fife. :)

Good stuff, Sherri. We fall down, we get up again. That's life no matter what profession we choose.

Debby Giusti said...

Great words of wisdom, Sherri!

I failed too. For more years than I want to admit. However, I was moving forward. Just no sale and lots of rejections.

Then I dug my feet in the sand and gave myself a year to publish. Okay, I went a bit over the year (remember I had seemingly "failed" for years and years and years prior to this line in the sand moment). I was ready to publish. I worked hard. Very hard. And my first story sold. Then I sold book 2, and book 3, and ...

You get the idea.

Love your mention of fear of success. I've seen it in a number of excellent writers. Sometimes we need to search deep within and find what's holding us back. It may not be the editors or agents. We may be sabotaging ourselves. Something to ponder...

Thanks for an insightful post. Always fun to see you on Seekerville!

Sherri Shackelford said...

Cheryl - don't be proud yet - I just binge watched a TV series when I should have been working.

Thankfully there were only five episodes available or I'd still be watching!

I did have a breakthrough on my story (although it was so obvious, I can hardly call it a breakthrough.) I'll label my binge watching as 'research'!

Sherri Shackelford said...

Lyndee - I think we can all relate! The trick for me is figuring out a way to deal with things without getting totally derailed. I'm still figuring things out all the time!

Carol - I'm writing down the detour advice! That way, when I get hung up, I'll remember it's not fatal ;)

More great advice from Vince! I'm running out of room on my scratch paper!!

Sherri Shackelford said...

Debby - isn't that crazy? The fear of success? And yet I think most people have it in one form or another, and yet there aren't nearly as many studies on it.

Pam, I feel like poor Barney Fife a lot of the times...

I <3 Stephanie! In this context, failure is not fatal unless we let it be :)

Janet Dean said...

Sherri, your book looks and sounds fabulous! Love Inspired does a great job writing back cover copy!

Janet

Anna Weaver Hurtt said...

Wonderful post, Sherri! Your advice is very helpful, especially since this week's writing has been in the not-so-fun category. :)

Unknown said...

I hate failing, I'm so scared of it... but I'm trying to get better :) My mantra this last year has been "learning!" Every time I fail, I try to focus on what I learned. What not to do next time, mostly, but it's not a failure if you learn from it and move forward.

Please put me in the drawing, too, the book sounds like a lot of fun!

Pam Jernigan

Jon and Vicki Marney said...

I read the article, but not the responses yet--I'm getting sleepy and need to read them later. In the meantime--thanks for this article--it hit some spots that I need to address.
Waiting for one more phone call interruption an then need to get back to writing...

BTW--In my response to yesterday's article, I forgot to mention that in my Speedbo goals, I also have 3 things to read/edit for crit partners...
Vicki

Becke said...

Well said from another nurse that has a love/despise relationship with the profession.

Nice kick in the tail kind of talk that I needed.

thanks,
b

lizzie starr said...

Well done, Sherri. Well done.

Kelly Blackwell @ Heres My Take On It said...

Ho Sherri, thank you for the kick in the paints. I needed that today. I had one of those weird mornings yesterday where everything was against me and I found myself getting my Speedbo goal in during my evening hours which is really not what I wanted to do.

Okay...I'm off to get my tush in the chair. Thanks for the inspiration Sherri!

PS I love the premise of your book! I look forward to seeing how everything turns out!

Wilani Wahl said...

I've had a good day. My goal this month is to write at least 1,000 words each day. For the second day in a row, I have far exceeded this. I wrote 2,790. It was an emotional scene and took a lot out of me to write, I feel so good at having gotten this written. I am getting ready to go out this evening with a friend.

Mary Connealy said...

Good job will I!

Sherri Shackelford said...

Janet, Love Inspired definitely does nice covers :)

Anna - some weeks are better than others, aren't they? Next week will be better!

"It's not a failure if you learn from it." Absolutely, Pam!

Vicki - fingers crossed for some productive writing for you this week!

Sherri Shackelford said...

Hello, *lizzie

Oooh, I've been kicking a lot people in the pants today, Becke and Kelley. I didn't mean to :)

That's amazing, Wilani!

Sandy Smith said...

Well, it is the 3rd day of Speedbo and I have written over 3200 words. However, I think about half of them will end up being cut, but at least I have something to start with. Just hope I can keep it up the rest of the month.

LoRee Peery said...

Great post, Sherri. I thought I left a comment mid-afternoon, but I don't see it. Could be I'm tired. Your book looks wonderful, as usual. Speedbo count going, I had a profitable day.

Todd Shackelford said...

My favorite part was "be like my husband and say NO." I'm awesome! and so are you :)!

Walt Mussell said...

I just want to say Todd sounds like an interesting guy. Welcome to Seekerville!

Rhonda Starnes said...

Wonderful post, Sherri. I really needed it today. I've been going since early morning (it's after 9:00 PM), and I'm just now sitting down to write. I definitely need to prioritize. But first, I've got to go meet my Speedbo goal for the day so I can go to bed. :)

CatMom said...

Sherri, you're a wise woman! :)
Thanks for sharing this post with us - - I enjoyed your no-nonsense insight.
Blessings, Patti Jo

Chill N said...

Sherri, I like that line about 'be like my husband and say NO.' And amen to not staying in a profession you loathe!

Yours is a post more timely for me that you'd believe :-) Thanks -- and best wishes for The Engagement Bargain!

Nancy C

ohiohomeschool said...

I love what you said about your husband not caring if the PTA president likes him. :-) It is good to remember when to say yes and only for the right reason.
Thanks so much. I would love to win a copy of your book.
Becky

Sparks of Ember said...

Very true advice. It's finding a balance. And your book sound too fun!

Deb said...

I'm un-sticking myself from "finding the time" to "making the time!" Thanks for the great post, Sherri!

The Artist Librarian said...

Too true --people say to do what you love, not what is fun. That drives you do keep on even when it's hard or challenging.

LOL, my productivity goals are totally hampered by my lack of time management skills (or the procrastination skills of a college student). =P
I don't seek out much historical western/prairie stuff anymore (Mary Connealy's one exception), but Sherri's book sounds fun! =)