The Crow's Dream

Philosophy, geekery, and the meaning if life, and what I read this week…

Minds in Darkness: A Writer’s Confession

with 9 comments

Success has very little to do with ability and a lot to do with failure toleration, according to Carol Dweck. People fail, because they see wining as a goal, so they miss out on the reward of the game, which is to get better. Ability is not fixed. By experimenting and learning from our mistakes we can get better at pretty much anything.

Many people have a very difficult time dealing with failure, but it is how you deal with it that determines your success. In my case, writing has always been an important part of my life, and a difficult one too. The hardest part of my writing life was when, after moving to San Diego, I had to figure out how to write in English–I am by no means implying that I could write well in Spanish, by the way. I am as talentless a writer as they come. My short fan fic story “Tears of Darkness” proves the point. The story contains bad language, by the way, but mainly bad usage. I really couldn’t write. I could put words on a page, and they kind of made sense, but when I showed my efforts to some of my friends they’d change the subject very quickly.

luckily for me, we can get better at what we do, as long as we are willing to see failures as challenges. There is no such thing as talent. You either practice or you don’t. True, we all have different levels of potential, but if you are a potentially good writer who is afraid of rejection you will make no difference in the world of the page.

I wrote like a crazy maniac every day. I wrote a large amount of idiotic dribble. I wrote stories filled with confused metaphors. I wrote bad beginnings to novels that would never materialize, and I wrote a lot of term papers. I typed and scribbled. I embarrassed myself, but I never quit the pen. I don’t know why I kept on writing. I quit so many other things, like drawing and martial arts. I didn’t think I was good enough. I was obviously not good enough to be a writer, but neuroplacticity did the trick, eventually.

I am not a great writer. I can write well enough to get my ideas across and to describe places and situations without boring the crap out of my readers. My voice is often sarcastic, and some times inspirational, but it is my voice. I found it by keeping at it though my palpable suckiness.

I make up words and have fun doing it. I am certainly a better writer than I was when I wrote “Tears of Darkness.” I suspect that I’d be embarrassed by the immature idiocy of my tale even if I had been able to tell the difference between Paul, the name, and a poll, as in the data gathering system. I never thought that I had to be a great writer in order to write. It was just something I did, and that’s why I’ve improved.

Maybe some day my blog will seem like a bad-angsty-mid-life-crisis-dream, heck! I hope it does. Writing is about writing. It isn’t about performance, because I promise you, the more you do it the better you’ll get at it. You have my word.

Whenever you feel like you will never get better, do yourself a favor and read “Tears of Darkness” again. After you dry the lachrymose laquer from your eyes, and manage to catch your breath, and stop laughing, use that annoyingly smug grin of yours to keep you going. Even if you suck as much as I did when I wrote my story, there is hope after all,

For more information on this subject, check out:

Mind Hacks: one of my favorite blogs, and the place where I found out about Dr. Dweck’s reaearch. Mind hacks links to a full article about idea failure atribution.

IT conversations: I’m not familiar with this show, but it hasa downloadable MP3 of an interview with the good doctor. Her page is here.


Written by Hector

March 19, 2007 at 8:50 pm

9 Responses

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  1. very inspiring i think u are a great writer

    my spanish is not too gut either but i try to practice my english

    i want to become a writer in the future,i’m getting old but i’ll make it u will see

    lutz meyerding

    March 19, 2007 at 8:57 pm

  2. For me, the noncreative part took a few days because I had to get it out quick. A couple of agents are interested in this book and I wanted to do it in a week.

    My best advice would be to have two completely different books. I sent out proposals far and wide for a “life after graduation” guide… in my proposal, I also mentioned a young adult novel I had.

    Apparently, the market for quarterlife books is horrible, but a few people were interested in the novel I mentioned. How’s that for learning from failure?

    So, within a week I shelved the quarterlife book and I whittled my 65,000 word young adult novel down to 49,000 words in four drafts.

    Mind you, I don’t have a full-time job or anything, so I’m livin’ for this stuff.


    March 19, 2007 at 11:02 pm

  3. thanks guys!


    March 19, 2007 at 11:18 pm

  4. You do it to it!

    Best of luck to you!


    March 19, 2007 at 11:26 pm

  5. very few of us are naturally good at writing — it is just practice that improves us (hopefully). One of the frustrations I had in Spain was trying to communicate my humor in another culture and language– thank God I don’t have to make people laugh in Spanish again! šŸ™‚


    March 20, 2007 at 8:41 pm

  6. I agree. Humor is very difficult. There are a few things that I’d love to communicate about my culture, but will never be able to do so for those who don’t speak Spanish. I have the same problem trying to explain “Arrested Development” to my mom. Oh, they joys of multiculturalism!


    March 20, 2007 at 9:36 pm

  7. I think you are an awesome writer, apparently so does the world. šŸ˜€


    March 21, 2007 at 2:45 am

  8. I know exactly what you mean…it’s the same way with my drawings and now, Photoshop.
    In the words of the great Carol Brady: “Winners never quit and quitters never win”.

    Harry Potter

    March 22, 2007 at 12:36 am

  9. “Arrested Development” ha! ha! that would be impossible to explain!


    March 22, 2007 at 2:57 am

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