Years ago, my daughter and I went to the Seattle Science Center and went in a simulator of a boxcar. It’s kind of like you see in those vintage gold mine photos, like a mountain mine ride going down steep mountainsides, barely on the rails and out of control.
The “boxcar” would shake and bounce and jolt as your eyes were glued to the scene simulator in front of you. We were hanging on for dear life, it was so real.
There were about six of us in the simulator, and suddenly this little boy screamed, “We’re all going to die!”
Obviously, we didn’t, but we did experience the janky railroad cart, hairpin turns, tunnels, and moments of going off the rails.
Our thoughts about that situation were what created the actual response.
Today I want to share some experiences I’ve had with the stress-induced response of fight, flight, freeze, and fawn, and offer that there is a fifth one that I have experienced. It has made such a huge difference in how I deal with that adrenaline rush. I’m actually kind of surprised that it’s not considered along with the rest of these. It even starts with an F.
Here are the four that we typically experience with this type of stress response:
- Fight: facing any perceived threat aggressively.
- Flight: running away from the danger.
- Freeze: the inability to move or act when faced with a threat.
- Fawn: acting to avoid conflict by “pleasing and appeasing” others.
I’m not a psychologist so I’m not going to go into the anatomy of the response. I’m just sharing my experience and how I’m able to move through it by using a fifth response.
These are all very common responses to anything that is outside our comfort zone. If we don’t understand these reactions and don’t allow ourselves to work through it, the stress will get the best of us and lower the quality of our lives, or at least keep us from creating our best lives in the short time we have here.
Of course, if you don’t want to leave that comfort zone, that is perfectly fine.
This episode is for the person who clearly wants to create something but making it happen is outside their comfort zone. When they think about it and actually know the next step they need to take, they go into a state of fight or flight and their brain is shouting, “We’re all going to die!”
I’ve been experiencing this response in almost every area of my life. But for the first time, I’m actually working through it instead of running back into my comfort zone or settling for a feeling of constant, low-grade anxiety. I’ve actually gotten comfortable with that feeling because it’s been my default to wake up with a feeling of anxiety, but enough is enough.
I could also fight by self-sabotage, or by going out of my way to avoid the thing I really want.
Instead, I use the fifth response: “feeling.
Choosing to feel. For me, this option offers itself for just a split second so I have to choose it quickly once I’m triggered by something. This will sound a little bit like the freeze response but it’s much different.
It’s all about intentionally engaging with the feelings you are having, not reacting to them but feeling them completely and deeply. To actually reach out and touch them, observe them, stay still, silent…for long enough to realize you’re not going to die.
Then you can respond with a sense of presence and intention.
You may feel exactly like you’re going to die but you’re not. Here’s what I discovered; this is my experience, anyway. And I’m still in it so I can speak very clearly about it.
When you choose to stay still (not freeze), you engage with the actual feeling in your body. For me it feels like these big waves of sadness, joy, possibility; it feels like an opening up; it feels raw and beautiful and ugly all at the same time. It’s pretty freaking wild.
It’s kind of like going to an opera. You know, in movies you see that character in the balcony, often a tough guy or a cold-hearted person. They just start crying. I think that is what is happening – they’re releasing that fight or flight response and just really feeling into it.
It’s only when I start attaching thoughts to those feelings that it becomes a problem.
So, it’s that moment of choosing not to react. Again, don’t confuse this with the freeze response.
You actually choose to not react and instead just be still and feel whatever you’re feeling until you get to that place where you realize you’re not going to die. Keep feeling it for however long it needs to be there. It’s not going to hurt you. Once you pass through, you will be able to continue on whatever journey it is that you’re on.
You might only make it a couple of blocks before the fight or flight response comes up again. That’s okay. Embrace it. Pretend you’re at the opera and just observing and taking it all in; ride the waves of whatever comes up. It’s actually an amazing experience if you can allow yourself to have it.
I just really wanted to share that this week, and hopefully whoever needs to hear this message will so that they can finally get to the other side and create their best life and work to share with the world.
Thanks for listening!
Rejection sucks, and for many creatives, particularly the highly sensitive ones like myself, it can feel debilitating to have your work rejected over and over again.
Our default brain is always going to bring up the fight or flight sensation when we experience rejection, even when we are just thinking about the possibility of rejection.
But we don’t have to accept this response, and the more you practice this reframing of rejection, the easier it will be to move through it.
So, I want to offer you a perspective that may help you process rejection in a healthier way, one that will keep you motivated and sharing your work with the world.
It’s the idea of learning to take rejection like a professional.
It’s a valuable skill so I hope you will try this idea on if it resonates with you.
A good example of taking rejection like a professional is that the majority of working and aspiring actors in Hollywood have to go to 150 to 200 auditions before booking one role. They physically put themselves in front of casting directors and agents and risk rejection every single day to land that one role.
Now, the casting agents are not rejecting the actor personally; the actor just does not fit the specifics they are looking for in that particular role. It has nothing to do with the value of the actor as a person.
A casting agent’s job is to sort, and rejecting is a sorting process. It’s not personal – it’s business.
And that is true when it comes to producers choosing which projects they will have on their slate, same with book publishers, and art galleries, etc. Anyone buying from a creative artist is a sorter.
When you put your work out there, think of it like that. Whoever you are sharing it with usually has specific things they are looking for to fulfill their needs.
You could also compare it to dating. Not everyone you date is going to be a good fit, and being rejected doesn’t mean anything about you, it just means you were not right for that person. Potential suitors are going to choose what’s best for them.
This is why you want to practice not being attached to the outcome.
The sooner we can stop associating our value as a person with our work being rejected, the better we are going to be at processing rejection in a manner that serves us instead of destroys us.
That’s the first step. Really focus on separating your value as a person and as a creative artist from having your work rejected.
This does not mean that you won’t feel the sting of rejection. You may really be excited about the prospect of working with a particular producer, publisher, or buyer, and it may be disappointing if they decide they want to go with someone else’s work.
Allow yourself to feel that disappointment. Express your emotions and then move on.
It should never be a reason to give up.
Also, focus on what went well, what worked, and what positive things came out of putting yourself out there. Congratulate yourself for those things. There’s always something you can take out of a rejection that you can learn from.
Reframe it as a learning experience. Did you get feedback you can use to get better at pitching your projects or elevating your craft? That one thing you learned could be worth 10 times the value you would have gotten had you not been rejected.
Fear of rejection is one of our deepest fears because of the feelings it gives us. So, we have to be able to navigate these feelings, not just pretend like they’re not there.
Don’t be afraid to feel your feelings. Internalizing your feelings with no outlet makes you feel worse, so allow yourself to express your emotions and then move on.
Don’t assume that you did something wrong because they don’t email or call you back. Nothing has gone wrong. Follow up once or twice after a few weeks, depending on the situation, and then let it go. Your project may just not be what they’re looking for.
Remember to think of them as casting directors. They are just sorting.
Keep putting yourself out there. Don’t be like the person who sits by the phone waiting for that one guy to call, wondering why he hasn’t or if he ever will.
I see this with screenwriters all the time. Someone requests a script from them and they just stop everything and obsess over hearing back from that one producer.
Stay focused on your end game before a rejection – and after one. It’s only by going through the rejection and not giving up that you can get to the other side where all the good stuff is.
Do you have a good support system with people you can connect with when you’re feeling extra vulnerable? A mentor, a coach, a group of people who are on the same journey?
I always go back to that quote, “You’re either winning or learning.” What is one thing you learned in this Tiny Talk to move your project forward?
P.S. As a creativity coach, I listen and focus on what you want and what is keeping you from getting there. If you are finding yourself constantly stuck in the same rut and you’re not sure how to get out of it, I can help. Book a free consultation and find out how we can work together and get your projects out into the world where they belong.
How do you make progress on your projects or in your career, or even just manage your day, when life gets under your skin? This sometimes happens for extended periods and even for seasons.
I have a great little tool for that!
It is possible to hold space for a crazy kind of life and still get your important creative projects done such as writing that book or screenplay, creating a body of art, producing a play, whatever your creative goals are.
You don’t have to wait for everything to calm down before you move forward – just a side note. I’m not saying you should just plow through at all costs; it’s a choice like everything else and sometimes, the best choice is to take a break from your creative projects and fully engage with whatever else is going on.
I want to share with you a tool that I use every day to help me stay on track even when things feel like crap, or when life becomes super challenging but I’ve committed to showing up.
It’s called The Box and I use it before I get on any coaching calls with my clients or when I want to focus on writing content or working on a project.
As a coach, I get paid to fully focus on a client and their obstacles and projects so they can move forward after each and every session. If I am in my head worried about my own life, the bills, what I’m going to have for dinner, or I’m thinking about one of my personal relationships, it means I’m not fully present for my client. They’re not getting the full value of the coaching session if I’m only half present.
It’s the same with when I’m writing my podcast or working on a screenplay. If I have split energy with one foot in my head and the other in the world of my screenplay, it’s going to show in my work and that work will not have the impact I want it to have.
Here’s what I do; it’s my little ritual so please feel free to make it your own.
I have a box. It’s a little 4×6 decorative black and white paper box. What I do is before each coaching call, I do a brain dump onto paper of all the thoughts swimming around in my head, my mental to-do list, anything that is causing me anxiety when I let my mind run around.
Then I tell myself that I will come back to these things but for now, they are not to disturb me until whatever task or event I have planned is complete.
Sometimes the little box acts like a jack-in-the-box and I have to stuff its little body back in the box but most of the time, the thoughts stay in the box until I let them out again.
After the thoughts are safely tucked away in the box, I remind myself that what I have in this moment is everything I need; I am sufficient, I am ready to serve, and the only thing I need to do is be present for my client.
Give it a try the next time you want to focus on something and see if it helps.
I think this may be the shortest episode yet! That is why I call it Tiny Talks – I like to keep things to the point, short, and instantly applicable.
If you would like to dive deeper and work with a coach on any of the topics I talk about on the podcast, please sign up for a free consult and see if we might be a good fit to work together on your creative projects.
I just learned this new concept from my coach – there are two types of results.
We have accomplished results that we have achieved and we have working results that we’re still working on. Those are the only two results you can possibly have.
An accomplished result is any result you currently have. For instance, you could have a result of optioning your screenplay or you can have a result of your screenplay being rejected. You could lose 25 pounds or gain 25 pounds. Those are accomplished results, although some people might perceive the results as positive or negative. But when we take the drama out of the story, they are all just neutral accomplished results.
If you were writing a screenplay and you spent six months doing it, and the result was that it didn’t sell, some writers would say that was a bad result and a waste of time.
Another writer would say it was the perfect result because in the process of writing that screenplay, they gained skills that will make it possible to write a future screenplay; they made connections that will help them in the future to sell or get hired eventually as a writer on a project.
The point is that the result itself was neutral. It is what the writer attached to it that made it positive or negative – it was a choice.
The first writer will use the accomplishment of finishing that screenplay against himself because in the end, he didn’t accomplish his big goal. Even though he is so much closer to the big goal that he wants, much closer than before he wrote the screenplay, he decides it was a waste of time because it did not accomplish his ultimate goal of selling it. He decides to make it mean all sorts of crappy things about himself and he gives up.
This is where the danger sets in because now you are training your brain to discredit any result that is not the result you want.
As creatives, we really need to break out of this mentality if we are going to move our projects forward, finish them, and get them out into the world. You have to start taking responsibility for every result you get and use all of the results for you and never against you.
Working results are from when you first start out on a project until you accomplish the finished result. It’s the space in between. It’s the work.
You have to be okay with being there in the in-between. I did a podcast last year called The Space in Between where I talk all about this, so you can check that out if you want to learn more about that in-between space that often feels kind of awkward and uncomfortable.
When you shift how you think about results, it’s going to inspire your work, give you more energy, and reinforce your commitment to your projects. You now know that every result is a result that you created and is going to move you closer to the finish line.
Even if you can’t see the finish line, you can trust that every result, working or accomplished, is getting you closer to the finish line if you look at it through the lens of achievement instead of good versus bad. Trust it no matter how many times you fall down or fail.
When you accept responsibility for your results and look at each one through a neutral lens, you can start asking yourself, “How did I create that result? What decision did I make that got me to that result? What have I done or not done? What do I need to do differently that will fuel the next result?”
Even if you accomplished nothing today, that is still a result, not a failure or a loss. It’s just a result to be looked at and you get to choose how you think about that result and use it to move you forward. I think this concept is pretty powerful.
I think is why a lot of people give up. They just look at any result that is less than the big result they wanted and chalk it up as a failure, and then continue to process every result as a failure or less than until they finally throw in the towel, believing that they have no power over their results.
Seriously embrace and celebrate every result achieved, even if it’s zero sum, and be open to the in-progress working results – the in-between of where you are now and your big goal.
How can you not succeed when you have that much agency over your creative process?
As a creator, you will spend pretty much all of your time in unaccomplished results, which is the work, and a very small amount of time with the accomplished results. This is okay; this is the life of a creator. We create, we create, we create; we accomplish; we create, we create, we create; we create until we accomplish. Rinse and repeat.
This was a very tiny Tiny Talk but I wanted to keep it to the point so you can really digest this concept. I think it is quite possibly the most valuable concept I’ve learned this week. I’m choosing to marinate in it for the rest of the month and I hope you will join me. We can hang out together in the hot tub of working results until we get an accomplished result, which we are going to use as movement toward our big goal. Sound good?
As I was thinking about my coaching style and process, I decided I would write a manifesto of what I believe are the seven pillars of my practice and what I want to work on with others.
I also plan on revisiting this manifesto every quarter to elevate it and hone in even more on the power of these seven pillars.
These pillars have allowed me to move toward a bigger version of myself, not just as a creator but as a human being. They allow me to experience life more fully and make the most of my time on earth.
These are the pillars that have changed my life and that I want to build my practice upon so they can change the lives of my clients, too.
Too many creatives focus only on the result or reward of what they create or consume. They think they have to earn a happy life and that success is what brings them happiness. They are waiting for happiness – or success – and they think it’s out there somewhere and that it must be earned and given to them by someone else.
There is a better way, and I believe that cultivating these seven areas of your life will create a life that is lived fully, one where you take responsibility for how you walk in the world and have your own back no matter what is happening in the outside world.
Here’s the manifesto I came up with about these seven pillars.
It’s not just what you create in the world but how you create, using your abilities, your talent, your dreams, your inspiration, your own passions, and collaborations.
I believe everyone is wildly creative, far beyond what they believe about themselves.
I’m on a mission to strike the phrase “I’m just not creative” off the face of the earth. It’s a big old thought error.
I believe creativity can change the world far more powerfully and efficiently than politics, boundaries, or rules and regulations ever could.
Productivity is how you make the most of your time, but it’s not about seeing how much you can check off your to-do list or how many tasks you can stuff into your calendar.
It’s about making room for the things that matter to honor our limited time here on this planet.
I believe that productivity is what allows us to add massive value to the world.
I believe that productivity and creativity can be best friends.
Simplicity is the key to productivity.
It’s the fire that burns inside each of us and fuels our existence.
I believe inspiration can come from anywhere, anyone, anything, and at any time.
I believe that the inspiration pillar is fueled by the other six pillars.
Inspiration cultivates commitment, courage, and creativity.
It’s both your mental and physical energy.
I believe in integrated health – it’s not just what we consume through our mouths but what we consume through our brains.
Good physical health and good mental health are what sustain and elevate all the other pillars.
Being healthy is contagious and has a ripple effect on the world and its resources.
Good mental and physical health cultivate the sustainable energy necessary for creating what you want in this world.
Feeling good mentally and physically creates the kinds of thoughts that inspire you into action.
I believe in eating consciously.
I believe in thinking intentionally.
High-quality relationships will lift you up above the noise and oppression.
They challenge you to become the best version of yourself.
I believe in surrounding yourself with people you love being around.
Good relationships create purpose.
I believe even introverts and shy people need strong relationships.
Like inspiration, joy wells up from inside of you.
I believe that joy is a gift that comes from gratefulness.
I believe joy inspires the other six pillars.
I believe joy is an appreciation of where you are right now.
Joy is a state of sufficiency.
Sharing Your Work in the World
Sharing your work in the world can bring prosperity.
When you prosper, you can share more with others.
Sharing your work can add massive value to the world or to just one person.
Sharing your work can inspire the world to change.
Sharing your work can create opportunities for you and many others.
Sharing your work is an invitation to the universe to collaborate with you.
Sharing your work is exciting.
Sharing your work in the world cultivates inner strength and healthy vulnerability.
Ready to get on the playing field? As a creativity coach and screenwriter, I can help you take your idea from concept to completion so you can get your work out into the world where it belongs.
Book a free consultation and find out how we can work together.
This week I struggled to put together the podcast.
I let myself get distracted with the news and all the awful things and I started spiraling into this sort of reactive state of mind. For me, it looks like freezing in place while my mind spins endlessly.
And that’s okay – it happens. I caught it and I’m back!
So, I thought I would share with you today how I got out of the spiral and finally got this Tiny Talk done that you’re listening to, even when I really didn’t feel like doing it at all.
I’m going to take you quickly through this exercise in real-time as I write this Tiny Talk so you can see how powerful it is and how easy it is. It’s going to help you avoid spending hours, weeks, or months in a funk over something you want to do but can’t seem to get started.
Step 1: Name the Thing
Step 2: Thoughts About the Thing
I don’t want to
No one cares
It feels too heavy
I can’t think of a good topic
I got nothing
The world is going to hell, what’s the point?
Step 3: How to Accomplish the Thing
Decide to do it
Run it through know-feel-do
Set a timer for 30 minutes – write first draft
Send to proofreader
Step 4: Clean Up Thoughts About the Thing
I want to create value for others
There is at least one person who cares
I can make this light
I can think of at least 10 topics right now
I’m feeling more energetic about this
This feels easy when I break it down and drop the drama
I have so much to offer
By helping one person, I will create a ripple effect in the world
Step 5: Do the Thing
My 30-minute timer just went off!
It doesn’t matter what the size of your thing is. This will work for you. And you’ll feel so much better; it’s like cleaning a cluttered room in your brain so you can finally have the space to create something beautiful.
I hope you find this exercise super useful. Use it today. Use it forever.
PS. If you want to create amazing things in this life and at an elevated level, you need two things: an outside perspective that’s not your own and time to think. That is the value of getting coached. Sign up for a complimentary consult here.
Why should I put all this time and energy into writing this screenplay if I can’t get it produced?
I used to have this thought.
Why would you put all of your energy into a project if you could only see that one outcome as inevitable? That would be an excruciatingly painful experience.
If you can’t come up with a good enough reason to continue and are attached to that all-or-nothing outcome, you may want to let that project go.
But I’d like to offer the idea of starting with a better question.
What are ALL the reasons you chose to begin this project? And, do you like those reasons?
If you dig deeper and find out that some of your reasons are that you love learning the craft and want to work toward mastery of it, you desire to build relationships with other writers or practice marketing your projects, you want to find out what works and what doesn’t work, you enjoy the process and who you are becoming as a writer, and you’re not attached to any particular outcome, then sure, that negative thought might pop up once in a while on a bad day, but you now could just redirect your brain to the real reasons you’re doing this project.
If you come at it from this perspective, you will intuitively know when to put that project to rest and move on to the next one.
I almost gave up screenwriting altogether because I was attached to an all-or-nothing result and was feeling like what’s the point? I am so glad I got coaching on this because I wrestled with it for a good two years and ultimately, it’s one of the reasons I decided to become a coach myself.
Because everyone needs to have the tools to strengthen their creative lives and projects and not destroy them prematurely with unhelpful thoughts.
What I found out was that I was focused on finishing a project because I was afraid of what others would think if I didn’t stick with it or finish it.
It’s always your choice and your decision to spend your time and energy on something.
When I really got that and allowed myself to have my own back, I was able to decide whether or not to quit or continue on a project with ease because my why was finally coming from a place of honesty. What I then discovered when it came to screenwriting is that I fell more in love with the process and I became completely unattached to the outcome. I’m learning to apply this to all areas of my life, and it serves me well!
I now know that if I make my efforts based only on getting a specific outcome, I end up falling into a lot of doubt and graspy, anxious behavior, and it shows up in my work, my communication and I have a lot more difficulty working through any obstacles or making progress on my projects.
Being attached to a specific outcome is a form of fear of failure. And we have to remember that it’s not failure we’re afraid of – it’s what we make that failure mean.
An email I read this morning had a quote in it from someone who was responding to the question, “What’s the worst decision you ever made?” She said she couldn’t think of an answer because in her words… “To repeatedly fail at something over 15 years of my life shaped so much of who I am and my success today.”
What if this were true about whatever project you decided to take on? That you were not guaranteed the specific outcome and you went into it thinking, “It’s possible I might fail; it’s possible I might not, but either way, I’m going to consider it a success.” What if you instead lived in the thought of “What is possible? What else is possible for me if I do this project?” Consider the possibilities of what you might learn, who you might meet, the inspiration or new idea that might come out of it, or where the path might take you instead…would this project be worth your time and energy then?
Only you can answer that. The answer may be no, and that’s okay.
Another thing you can do is look at the outcome you want and ask yourself what you think that outcome will produce for you. What feeling are you trying to get from it? The reason we do anything is for the feeling we think the outcome will bring.
Once you identify those feelings, ask yourself how you can create those feelings right now in your life because it’s never the outcome that makes you feel a certain way. It’s what you think about the outcome that gives you the feeling.
Using the example we started with, if the outcome I want from writing a screenplay is to get it made, how do I think I will feel when I get that screenplay made?
For me, it would be a deep sense of pride and accomplishment; it would feel thrilling to see it on the big screen. These are the feelings I think I would experience.
How can I create and experience the feelings of pride, accomplishment, and a sense of being thrilled right now as part of the process of creating that screenplay and in other areas of my life?
Why wait for the outcome to experience the feelings you want to be having? And why depress yourself with the thought that it probably won’t ever happen, so what’s the point? Why not just live in the possibility and let that fuel you instead of thinking it’s impossible? You don’t know what is going to happen.
If you approach writing your screenplay through the filter of What’s the point? I’m probably wasting my time and you are probably right. How creative and engaging do you think your writing is going to be if you’re creating from that energy?
On the other hand, if you’re thinking about what’s possible and about all the things you’re learning, all the fun you’re having writing, problem-solving, researching, sharing your work, making connections with people, gathering more idea seeds, and believing that there are people out there who will be interested in what you’re working on, your writing is going to be much more creative and entertaining to read.
You get to choose the success of any project. You may not get the exact outcome you thought you wanted, but you can still have it be a success if you allow that success to come to you through the infinite number of channels of what’s possible.
Most of all, make room for what matters. That might mean embracing a project or letting it go. The real waste of time is sitting in the middle with a question that is not useful like, “What’s the point if no one will produce it?”
The decision to continue a project or not is always yours. You are the only one who needs to like your reason for quitting or staying with it.
I want to end with a couple of quotes from the book Mastery by George Leonard.
“Perhaps we’ll never know how far the path can go, how much a human being can truly achieve until we realize that the ultimate reward is not a gold medal but the path itself.”
And one more:
“Ultimately, nothing in this life is ‘commonplace,’ nothing is ‘in between.’ The threads that join your every act, your every thought, are infinite. All paths of mastery eventually merge.”
If you need some creativity coaching on this topic, I can help. I know how painful it is to be in this place, and I’d love nothing more than to see you get back on the playing field. Quit your suffering and schedule a free consult here!
When I first started getting feedback on my scripts, I focused on self-validation. It never occurred to me to focus on anything else. I was either a good writer or a bad one.
One fellow writer swooned about my writing and asked if I had written a lot of scripts. My characters were amazing, the dialogue was phenomenal…I felt like a screenwriting prodigy.
Later that same day, I received feedback from another writer, pages and pages of it, about what was not working in my screenplay. This person warned me not to send it to producers, that it was not anywhere near ready, that it was basically a hot mess.
I was devastated. I made that negative feedback mean everything about who I was as a person and my ability to write. I shut down that project at that moment. In my mind, I completely canceled out the good feedback I had gotten prior to that.
I used to blame the person who gave me that feedback for being the reason I never finished the script or continued to market it. Fast forward 15 years; I see now it was me who shut that project down. Not because of the feedback, but because I was not willing to learn anything new about what I had written.
I’ve seen my demise replayed over and over through other writers. Writers, or any creative, can be their own worst enemy on every level. I finally said, “Someone needs to stop this madness!” and that is why I became a creative coach.
So, I’m going to share with you four tips for receiving and processing feedback on your creative projects.
Get Into the Right Emotion
You want to get yourself into an emotion that allows you to be open to a new perspective, to see things differently so that you can create new and elevated results with the feedback you do get.
That is the purpose of getting the feedback.
Some great emotional spaces to get yourself into before processing or receiving feedback are curiosity, commitment, or desire to learn as much as you can so that you can elevate your project and become more skilled.
Spaces to avoid are feeling rushed, angry, defensive, resentful, self-righteous, desperate, frustrated, or bitter. Feeling the need to explain your every decision is a sign you’re not open to receiving the learning aspect of feedback or coaching.
These emotions close you off to learning and finding solutions. If you find yourself feeling any of the above emotions when reviewing feedback, it’s a good idea to check in with yourself and see if those emotions are serving you.
It’s normal to have these emotions; just be aware of them when you’re having them and decide you’re going to put the feedback away until you can receive or respond from a better state of emotion. Allow yourself to feel the crappy emotions, but also decide you’re not going to stay there. If you find yourself continuing to indulge in these crappy emotions but have enough awareness to realize that they are keeping you from moving forward, you can get coaching on that. Maybe you just don’t know how to process everything, and coaching can help you learn how to do this so you’re not getting hung up on constructive criticism in the feedback you receive.
Commit to Elevating and Finding Solutions
Before receiving feedback on your project, remind yourself that you are seeking to elevate your project first and foremost. Yes, it’s nice to get validation but it’s not the reason you should be getting feedback.
This is the best way to get into a good emotional state and something to remind yourself of when those other undesirable emotions start creeping in. You want to think about different perspectives, you want to find solutions for any trouble spots, you want to make your project the best it can possibly be. So, just notice if you find yourself getting defensive about proposed solutions or suggestions, or upset because there is a lack of validation – the entire point is to get help.
Have Your Own Back
Be careful to not take feedback personally. It means nothing about your worthiness as a human being. There is the feedback that someone gives and there is what you make that feedback mean. You have complete control over that. You don’t have control over what someone thinks or how they perceive something.
Getting tough feedback doesn’t mean you’re bad at what you do, it just means you have a chance to elevate your project, your skillset, and your ability to receive feedback so that it becomes a tool instead of an obstacle. Feedback, when you ask for it, is 99% of the time not a personal attack on you.
Often people will interpret feedback through the filter of how they speak to themselves about their own project. So, make sure you are giving yourself critiques from a place of wanting to find solutions and improve upon your project. Give yourself feedback the way you would like to receive feedback. Treat yourself with respect and kindness, even when you’re having a tough time or struggling with elevating your project or when you’re experiencing negative emotions about it. You will be much more likely to show up for yourself and your project regardless of what kind of feedback or critique you get when you have your own back.
Remind yourself that the person giving you feedback or coaching you is on the same side. They want to see you elevate your work and are usually honored that you trust their opinion. At least I know I am when people come to me for coaching or feedback. Of course, there are people who are going to be bad at giving feedback, but this is why it’s really important to have your own back, all of the time.
Create a Strong Critique Circle
Find your circle of people you go to for feedback – those who are going to be the best at helping you elevate your project – and stick with them.
You should be able to have around five or six people in your circle: maybe a couple of writing peers, a coach, a script consultant, and some friends whose opinions you value. I also like to include giving it to someone who is not in the industry. My daughter is excellent at giving feedback on query letters and synopses.
I end with this Twitter post I saw from James Clear on handling rejection and success.
The Ideal Feedback Processing Mindset
How to handle rejection:
-Learn from the experience
-Keep your ego in check
-Say “thank you”
How to handle success:
-Learn from the experience
-Keep your ego in check
-Say “thank you”
It’s what we could all aspire to as creatives putting our work out into the world where it belongs.
Don’t miss the February I Heart Writers Special! Rewrite Coaching + Coverage. Get it here.
Structure is an arrangement.
Story is fluid.
Structure is a house.
Story is people making it a home.
Structure is a book.
Story is what makes the reader turn the page.
Structure is a podcast.
Story is what the podcast is about.
Structure is a website.
Story is what that website represents.
Structure is a screenplay or a comic book.
Story is what we experience when reading it.
Structure is a turning point.
Story is what moves the audience.
Structure is a business.
Story is the value that business brings to others.
Character structure is a body and its physical attributes.
Character story is about the soul inside that body.
Structure is the how.
Story is the who and why.
Structure is a container.
Story is what you pour into it.
Structure is strategic.
Story is influence.
Structure auditions for story.
Story does not audition for structure.
Structure is a query letter, logline, or one page.
Story is what gets you in the door.
Put Story before the structure.
P.S. It’s February already! Ready to get on the playing field? As a creativity coach and screenwriter, I can help you take your idea from concept to final draft so you can finally get your work out into the world where it belongs. Book a free consultation and find out how we can work together.
We don’t actually fear failure – we fear what we make “failure” mean about us.
We want to have success without ever falling down because we’re afraid of looking stupid. We worry about what others might be thinking about us. We’re worried that we’re going to feel like crap and beat ourselves up because that is what we tend to do when we do have a fail.
This is the most important thing to be aware of. If you’re not, it’s much too easy to hide under the umbrella of “fear of failure” so we don’t disappoint ourselves.
But the irony is that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy because we guarantee there will be no success when we don’t even try. Success requires failure, often massive failures.
You simply cannot have true success without failure – and the bigger, the better – because the things we’re afraid will cause us to fail are most likely the exact actions we need to take to succeed.
If your strategy for success is to fail as little as possible along the way, you are keeping yourself stuck from ever achieving your goals. Failure, namely learning from those failures, is required to move you to the next level.
Think about it.
If you knew you weren’t going to have to fail, you probably would have already done all the things to achieve the success you want.
When you aim for less of anything, including fewer failures, that is what you get, including less success. You have to be willing to break your current glass ceiling and let the glass shards land where they will.
So, here is the exercise that is going to change how you think about fear of failure forever.
You want to make a list of all the major fails that could happen along the way to the success you want, the things you are afraid to do because you might screw up, you might look stupid, you might offend someone, you might be humiliated or alienated if you take the required risk.
That list becomes your roadmap to success. Those are the obstacles you need to move toward and take action on, that will elevate you toward success and not continue to keep you just under the radar of safe mediocrity.
Actively move toward those possible fails.
If you just say you’re willing to fail, that’s lip service. When you actively move toward those potential fails and commit to learning from them no matter what, you are guaranteed to grow closer to your success. It’s the only way.
When you’re committed to not just the success but to taking the emotional risk to get there, you can move forward. Open yourself up to failure on purpose. It’s something you are willing to feel the whole weight of because you know, in the end, you have your own back. That is what matters.
The bottom line is you’re either going to be successful at avoiding failure or you’re going to be successful at striving to reach your goals and maybe even reaching success beyond what you currently think is possible.
I’ve never succeeded at anything by practicing the art of NOT failing.
You create your success through what you learn from your failures. With each so-called failure, you learn and build confidence or self-trust.
There is a quote that I just love and I’m not sure who to attribute it to, but you are either learning or you’re winning. So, you could just replace the word “failing” completely, and if you make the same mistake twice, it just means you haven’t learned the thing you were meant to learn. Fail again.
Someone might ask at this point, “What about fear of success?” Exact same thing. You’re not afraid of success; you’re afraid of what you are making that mean about yourself.
So, make that list of the things you are afraid to do because you might fail and that is your work. Let that be your roadmap to success.
I’m now accepting clients for my one-on-one coaching program. If you’re developing a project, rewriting a current one, or marketing a completed one, I can help. Book a free 30-minute consultation here and find out how we can turn your obstacles into your successes.