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Set Yourself Up for Success: Overcome procrastination and failure to launch

Can't -> Can
Image Composer: Dorian Cole.

The first play I wrote, I then produced and directed, and then I asked the audience and actors what didn’t work. Was I cowering in fear, worried that they hated it, and thinking this would be the end of my writing career? Nope. It was kind of fun, but more importantly told me where it needed improvement. You can’t fix something if you don’t know it’s broken. So, I appreciated that critique moment.

There’s always a chance you will get kicked in the teeth. You have to risk that. But here’s the thing, you grow and become better. Without that kind of feedback, you remain the same. Unfortunately a lot of people have the attitude that they are what they are and will forever be judged for that one story. They live and die as they are at this moment.

“I am what I am and that’s all that I am.” – Popeye the Sailor

Life is not like that. Life is growth. Whether it’s mentally or spiritually, we live, we learn, and we grow.

I’ve been writing professionally since 1993. I like creative work, and my communications career has been financially rewarding. In 1985 I began working with Writers Workshop, LA. I critiqued screenplays and helped develop them, finally … well, not important about me – this is about you.

I learned, and learned, and learned, and wrote about writing endlessly since then on this Visual Writer Web site, and every year I learn something more about writing plays, screenplays, novels, and the human condition. I try to pass what I learn on to other writers. Learning and getting better never ends. A growth encompassing mind is a requirement for continued success, and everyone can have this kind of mind.

Candidly, the market is in a continuous state of change with requirements changing as well.

The opposite of this is the person who writes, then because of lack of confidence, fear of failure, fear of exposure, or free-floating fear (anxiety) because they were always told they weren’t good enough and would never succeed, or other endless things that produce fear, or is bogged down in the belief they will never be any better than they are right now, they are what they are, so putting their work out there is a death sentence …. Okay, this was one long paragraph – not the done thing.

Everyone can learn. I should repeat that for emphasis. You can improve your IQ, not that IQ is terribly important – it’s just a starting point. You can learn new things, and can improve your skills. No one is locked in to their skill level of the moment.

There are five well known stages of growth for skills. In the first the person doesn’t know what they are doing, and just does it “by the seat of their pants,” usually without much success and without knowing what it is they don’t know. In the second the person can’t repeat their first success, understands they aren’t doing well, doesn’t know why, and wants to know how to do it better. In the third, the person has some idea what they are doing, but it’s hard work. In the fourth, the person knows very well how to do it, so that it’s become instinctive.

Don’t let yourself be Popeye, who will never be anything more, so you sink or swim the first time your boat is attacked. Be the person who goes boldly ahead and gets better every time. Invite criticism, don’t hide from it.

If you see yourself in this, you might find the book “Mindset: The new psychology of success helpful.” It goes more deeply into why people’s mindsets hold them in place.

This Website has free articles and books for every stage of writing, from beginner to pro. It comes from research of hundreds of stories, experience, and the human condition. It compares to advice from Hollywood directors, fifteen years of behind the scenes on TV pilot focus groups, and currently Netflix. It’s a growth place.

- Dorian

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