“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something.” -Neil Gaiman
Once upon a time I lived a safe life. A cautious life. A life were every step was measured, calculated, and executed with precision, with little to no margin for error. The only risks I ever considered taking, were the ones with the highest probabilities of success, if one could even label them as risks at all. Rarely was I ever one to try something new, and NEVER voluntarily.
In a previous post, you learned that I am a perfectionist, with little patience for things at which I am not adept. This only enhanced my timidity. For when you try something new, the outcome is unpredictable, your fail to success ratio uncertain, each step impossible to measure, for you have never taken them before.
I do not like to fail.
So what did I do? I avoided trying new things at all costs, trusting my cautious nature to keep me out of any discomfort and disappointment.
Then I met Caleb.
If you don’t know Caleb, he is my husband. We have almost been married for 5 years now, and dated for nearly 3 years before that. So by that math, 8 years ago, my safe life ended.
Not only is he a risk taker, but trying new things is his favorite past time. His greatest fear is that his life will be boring, a safe cage that will trap him into monotony and obscurity (things that honestly didn’t sound that bad to me). Time and time again he drags me into doing things that make me uncomfortable, that push me, forcing me past my imposed limits.
I honestly believe that God brought Caleb into my life to build up my confidence, to introduce risk into my safe little bubble, and to show me that I was capable of so much more than I allowed myself to be. (Obviously God knew I could never say no to such a cute boy).
As a writer, the worst thing you could do, is isolate yourself from the world. To close yourself off from the eternal inspiration waiting for you in the form of new experiences, new people, new failures, and new successes. Often, when I experience blocks in my story, it is because I have become stagnant in my routine, butt glued to the couch, safe and sound, trying to force my brain into producing its own inspiration.
My story is riddled with adventures that my husband somehow maneuvered me into, from white-knuckled horseback rides, to building furniture, to scaling cliff walls because somehow you found yourself in a place where the only escape was up. If a character in my book is every terrified, frustrated, or feeling incompetent……….. well, they tell you to write what you know.
But, also, if you read a character that tried, that strived, that looked past their fear of failure and simply did……well, that is now me too.
As a writer, you need to experience failure, because you need to learn how to overcome it. Why? Because your characters will need to overcome it.
We LOVE characters because they change. Because they grow. Because they are out of their depths but we always know that they are going to overcome. Isn’t that the climax of a story? How they overcame? How they finally become the HEROES the readers are expecting, anticipating, needing?
So try something new. You can start small, with something that isn’t scary, but for some reason you just haven’t gotten around to it yet. It will be hard. Motivation to do something outside of your routine takes extra brain power, and you will find yourself slipping back into the familiar quickly, if you are not paying attention. If you can’t do it alone, find someone to do it with you, I know I needed Caleb to drag me along.
Enjoy it, the change.
Your inspiration will soar. Your dreams will become sharper, growing in possibility and achievability. Your writing will become more vibrant, your characters more interesting, the story less stagnant.
You don’t have to be good at something to gain confidence, you just have to learn that you can.