When you were little and you learned how to tie your shoes, did you get it right the first time? How about when you first learned the alphabet and then said it out loud? How about your first time riding a bicycle? Now you know how to do all these things now, so how did you get there?
When we did not get them right on the first try, someone let us know that we were doing it wrong. Someone or something. That something being us falling on our asses when didn’t balance the bicycle in the right way as we learned to ride. But even then, you got back on and tried again, right?
I’m using “negativity” here, not quite in the traditional sense, meaning “excessive displeasure” and “gross unhappiness.” No, this time, it’s simply meant as something that doesn’t go our way.
In my above examples, there was some point that we learned we were doing those things wrong. However, in knowing how to do them today, it was a great thing that we were told we were wrong when we were. Imagine if we were never told or we simply quit each time we didn’t get it right.
As I’ve stated before in other blog posts, I am an aspiring screenwriter. In March 2013, I began this journey. I had just finished writing my third book and I was looking to do something a little different.
At the time, I was totally unaware of where to begin. So I researched it. Because I did not personally know a single person who had ambitions to be a screenwriter, I knew I would have to completely teach myself how it was to be done. Sure, the research would guide me, but as far as the “down and dirty,” I was a one-man crew.
I realized that once I began working, it would be a mess. Not knowing how to do pretty much any of it, I knew that my first projects would need serious improvement. So here’s what I decided to do back then: I chose to fully complete three screenplays before I was to send one out to look to sell. That’s right…I was essentially going to spend the weeks and months writing three screenplays just for…practice.
Wait…we talkin’ ’bout practice?! Not a game, not a game. We talkin’ ’bout practice, man.
Yes. I absolutely had to make these mistakes and then be told about them to have any idea as far as where to go next. I couldn’t be afraid of failing or have thin skin when someone told me that I needed to improve in one area or another. I couldn’t avoiding letting those mistakes be seen. Only then would I know how to fix them and become better as a screenwriter.
In knowing how much work it takes to finish ONE screenplay, some familiar with the task would think I’m out of my mind to determine in the very beginning that I would spend the time in writing THREE of them and doing them solely for the purpose of “training.” I had no intentions of sending any of them out to try and sell them. I didn’t know how long it would take or how much I would have to go through before I would feel comfortable enough to begin writing for the purpose of trying to sell them, but I sent those first three to quite a few different places, again, mostly just to receive feedback to find out where all my mistakes were.
The good thing about it was that there weren’t really any major mistakes in any of them (it helps that I’m already a writer), but there were quite a bit of areas I needed to improve in, in some way. But if I were the type to not want to accept the feedback, constructive criticism, or be willing to “practice” before getting it right, I don’t know how things would have gone differently. I can imagine that I would have either quit by now, or not be as far along as I am.
There are people out there who absolutely cannot accept constructive criticism in any way whatsoever. They just don’t handle it well. They surely understand that it is sometimes impossible to do certain things correctly without making the mistake(s) first and/0r being told that some part of whatever they’re doing is “wrong.” However, they still aren’t good with it.
Sometimes, we HAVE to be told that something is wrong in order to make it right. In many cases, the absolute WORST thing that could happen is that you continue to do something wrong as no one corrects you. I know that many of us have egos and don’t like being told that we are wrong or need improvement in some way, but the most successful people out there have been told they are wrong about something very likely MANY times. That’s the only way they could have made it to where they are.
Of course, many of us don’t want the excessive negativity. Woe is me, everything is the absolute worst, boo-hoo-hoo to just about everything. That’s not the kind of negativity I’m referring to here. It’s just the simple case of being told that we need to “get right” in some way. Not only should you not attempt to avoid it, but sometimes you will need to go after it, just the way I did when I wrote my first three screenplays. There was no getting around the mistakes since I had absolutely no idea what I was doing in the beginning. That’s how it is many cases. Yes, it costs money to enter the contests or to write to professional editors to find out where I went wrong, but in my opinion, that was money well-spent.
The bottom line is that while many of us hate any kind of negativity, there are times when we absolutely need it or else we will never reach our goals. Keep that in mind and be selective in when you will accept negativity and when you won’t. There’s a big difference between excessive negativity and constructive criticism. The best thing you could ever do for yourself is to learn that difference.
An open mind can go a LONG way.