Feeling like a failure is normal

You’re scared? Good. That means you’re moving forward. Chasing something. Going after what you want.

Frankly, the times when I’m not scared – when, for instance, I stay in bed an entire day, telling myself I suck and I should pack it in – that’s when shit gets ugly.

Yeah, I do that on occasion. Two weeks ago today was the last time. It was also the day before I launched the pre-sale for my new book (THE Guide) and my new writing class (6+).

Here’s the deal: Making big things happen brings on doubt – about everything. What you do. Who you are. Who you want to be. All of it goes under the microscope. That’s normal.

So what happens when you can’t come out from under the blankets? Well, that depends on whether or not you have kids. Because they don’t care what you have going on. They want shit and you’re going to get it for them. (If you’re not parent, then stay in bed.)

We spend a lot of time telling ourselves we’re doing things wrong. Or we shouldn’t be doing things. Or we should be doing other things. What we don’t do very much is listen to our bodies. If you want to stay in bed, do it. Get it out of your system.

Because eventually, once you’ve given yourself permission to feel whatever feelings are making you want to stay in bed, you will want to get up. And launch a book. Or start a new class for writers. Or any other crazy ass thing you can think of. (Maybe the crazy is just me? Nah.)

These days, my life is about doing what I want to do. I’m not always great about it, but I’m trying. I don’t beat myself up anymore if I need a break. I don’t stress that I’m a complete ass and everyone hates me because I swear. (Sorry, Mom.) I no longer bother trying to please everyone.

What I’ve learned by being gentler with myself is that I feel more empowered.

I don’t need anyone’s permission to be myself. That frees me up – it energizes me – to do the creative work I love with people who like my style.

My point?

Anyone who goes for it will fall down along the way. Feeling like a failure is a part of success. Being scares shitless is a step in the process. They both mean you’re not sitting on your ass whining, like most of your critics. *snicker*

I fall on my face all the time. You’d be shocked if you knew how much time and money I’ve sunk into useless products, dead-end projects and bad deals.

But I also learned from those mistakes.

Feeling like a failure is normal. Sometimes it means you’re sitting on the edge of your biggest success. But even if it doesn’t, your world is not going to crumble.


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19 replies
  1. Cat Grant
    Cat Grant says:

    I just went through this same crap myself on my latest work in progress. Started wringing my hands over whether I was using the right POV. Finally decided to just write the story the way my characters were demanding to be written, and if there are problems, I can hash it out with my editor later.

    The only writers who don’t have doubts are the ones who think they’re perfect – which usually means they’re crap.

  2. Vanessa Matthews
    Vanessa Matthews says:

    Oh I hear you. I am totally at that point in my life where I am coming around to the idea of just being healthily selfish and trying to do what pleases me. You can’t be everything to everyone, fact. Doesn’t mean you are failing, just means you are finally being honest, and once you clear that junk out of the way, well then you can start living. Love it… and yes, totally have lie in bed days (except kids stop me actually lying there for too long).

  3. Lynda, aka Lady Quixote
    Lynda, aka Lady Quixote says:


    *GASP*…. I’m a brand new great-grandma and I just dropped the F bomb — without even using the proper Miss Manners way of spelling F**K. Yikes, it must be catching. But that’s a good thing, right? I mean, right!

    Rebecca, you are wise way beyond your years. Brilliant and awesome and cool, and inspirational as all hell.

    The thing that’s holding me back… my F*E*A*R… is the story itself. A true story, one that is so f’d up… I mean, so utterly and totally FUCKED UP, that I am literally afraid to put it all on paper. Yet I feel like I have to. I don’t want to grow old and die and take my story to the grave.

    But, on the other hand, I keep wrestling with these questions: will telling my story help anyone, or anything? Or will it only be an ugly rehashing of old garbage that should have been hauled off to the dump decades ago? Do I really want to drag my ancient dirty laundry out of the closet for the whole world to see?

    I want to be happy, joyous, light, and beautiful. All love and compassion, kindness, mercy, and forgiveness. I want to live in the happy now, not stay stuck in the distant painful past. But there is this great big ugly ball of CRAP inside me that will not go the hell away. It’s exactly like being constipated. For forty plus years.

    I wrote a novel once, and got it published. Thirteen years ago, that was. It felt awesome and I loved the accomplishment, even though it didn’t sell very much. It’s still selling, a trickle here, a trickle there, both in paperback and now on on kindle. It’s my baby. Writing The Second Mrs. Robinson was hard, but fun.

    But… the story that seems to be literally burning a hole in my brain is not fiction, and it’s anything but fun. It’s an insane kind of story, a story that, of the few people in my life I’ve told it to, the majority clearly did not believe. They reacted as though I either must be so crazy that I imagined most of it, or else I was a pathological liar. I think most people have reacted that way because they did not want to believe that my story could be true. But every damn word of it is true. I wish it weren’t, but it is. I know, because I — somehow — lived through it all.

    I’ve been trying to write this freaking story forever… literally for decades. But I’m still frozen on page one! I’ve created a title, and a front and back book cover for my story. I’ve written my story already, a thousand times, ten thousand times, in my head. But I’m fucking frozen on page one, Rebecca. Because the story is so damn hard.

    I wish I had the money right now to do your 6+ thing, but I literally don’t. We’ve been giving all our extra finances for the past several months to buy things like food for my handicapped brother whose SSDI does not go far enough, and to pay the car payment for my 30-something stepson who has been very ill and in and out of the hospital for months, and yet all he can get is food stamps, he was denied both disability and unemployment. Which is insane. He will lose his car if we don’t make the payments, and he was so physically ill and so mentally depressed, and his relationship ended all at the same time, so my husband and I agreed that losing his car right now would probably be the final straw. In our hearts, love is an action word. Before this mess with my brother and stepson, is was my 30-something daughter who truly, desperately needed our help. So it’s not an excuse, it’s real, there’s no extra money right now. But someday soon, I expect, I hope, I pray that will change. And when it does, before anyone or anything else can pipe up and steal the money out of our checking accout, I will sign up for your personal coaching. I’ve made myse,f that promise. I’ve checked around, YOU are the only writing coach/editor who lights my fire and makes me believe that maybe, yes, I CAN….

    I briefly wrestled with the thought that you are probably about the same age as my daughter… but, so is my dentist, and yet she is also old enough, smart enough, trained and skilled enough to drill on my teeth. I can tell, Rebecca, that you, likewise, are old enough, smart enough, trained and skilled enough, to be my writing coach. I believe if anybody out there can help me through this paralyzing FEAR, you can.

    Because you are awesome like that. Cuss words and all. 🙂


    • Kim Jorgensen Gane
      Kim Jorgensen Gane says:

      Shit, yes! Rebecca is and will be a ROCKIN’ coach for you!!! Your story touched me, Lynda, and I couldn’t help but reply.

      If you are a writer in your soul of souls, then writing is healing and cathartic and is precisely what you MUST do. If you make it a novel, you can write it the way you wished it had happened, with a triumphant or vengeful ending. Then you don’t have to worry about what others think. For me, writing comes from my personal experience, but then I can go anywhere with it that I wish. It’s mine, after all, I can touch it!

      WRITE your story…do NOT let money troubles stop you. Write it from your gut. It can be healing to write what you learned from it, or how you survived it and triumphed over it even though it happened *to your character*. It can be healing to take someone out who so badly deserves it. And when you can’t help but do otherwise; when the timing is perfect, you’ll find the money to have Rebecca help you polish and perfect.

      Don’t waste another moment on FUCKING FEAR! Just Write! And Write Raw!

      Best of luck to you.

      • Lynda, aka Lady Quixote
        Lynda, aka Lady Quixote says:

        Kim! You made me cry happy tears!

        My novel was almost all fiction, but the basic premise, on an emotional level — the feeling of what it feels like to be the SECOND wife, second in every sense of the word — that was real. My 10-year marriage bit the dust right after my book was published, and as soon as the divorce was final, my ex went right back and married his first ex, the woman who had cried that her mid-life crises decision to divorce her husband of over 27 years was the biggest mistake of her life. Only problem was, she hadn’t woken up and smelled the coffee until 2 years had passed since she left him, and then he and I had and married. She didn’t want him, until somebody else had him.

        Fun times. Not.

        BUT — my real-life happy ending is that I’m now almost 9-years into a marriage with the guy I call my best-friend-husband. He’s the absolute BEST thing that ever happened in my entire life, my BFH is. So, my sorrow has turned to joy, and it’s all good.

        Yes, it was cathartic to write a book that had an emotional basis in reality, but with absolutely no factual connection to real life. It helped me face what I hadn’t wanted to face for those 10 tough years, which was that getting married on the rebound is a MISTAKE. Facing that truth gave me the courage to DO something about it, and although it was a hard an painful choice, I’m so glad I did.

        But, this 45+ year old story, is complex. If I were to try to fictionalize it… I don’t know if I can. But… hmmm. Maybe. I’ve toyed with many different title ideas for the book, one of which is: From Here To Insanity. But my trauma therapist says it sounds too negative, he wants me to try focusing more on the positive. Yet he, too, keeps after me to JUST WRITE. He read my novel and says I must keep writing.

        Sigh… Quandry… that’s my middle name, these days. But again, Kin, thank you so much for giving me happy tears, and good thoughts to ponder.


        • Lynda, aka Lady Quixote
          Lynda, aka Lady Quixote says:

          Yikes — so sorry for the typos (banging head on keyboard). I keep forgetting to proof read, BEFORE I click the submit button. You are KIM, not Kin. I knew that… it’s just not easy typing with happy tears in my eyes. 🙂

  4. Jenniffer Wardell
    Jenniffer Wardell says:

    Thank you sooo much. The worst part about all these feelings is that you’re pretty sure you’re the only one who’s ever felt like this, probably because you’ve screwed up terribly along the way. It’s an immense comfort to get online and see that other people have gone through exactly the same thing, and there’s a way out the other side.


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