© Flynt | Dreamstime.com – Falling down the stairs
By Chris Hutton
Ring-a-round the rosie,
A pocket full of posies,
We all fall down.
At some point everyone stumbles, everyone falls. The key to success, at least so I’ve heard and believe (though admittedly using anecdotal, and therefore questionable, evidence) is not who doesn’t fall, but who stays down and who stands back up.
Recently I disappeared from my blog for over 3 months. This was a huge misstep. My writing trickled from a steady 3-4 times a week to nearly non-existent. I had my reasons. We all have our reasons. I went on vacation, got back with a flu that evolved to strep throat that evolved to a sinus infection that devolved to a flu that ended in an ER visit. Suffice to say, I had a fun few months (and way too many visits to the doctor).
The point is that I fell. Now I am standing back up. That is what has to be done if you want to write. You will lapse… you will slip, but hopefully you will also get back to that keyboard and jump back to your writing.
This falling and getting back up is all about the long game.
When I came to Los Angeles for school (yes, I am a former film student) one of the first bits of advice that I was offered, beyond always take Fountain, was to give yourself ten years. Each overnight success in this town could easily take ten years.
Mind, that’s not ten years of sitting on your ass hoping to make it, or piddling at your craft but never putting in the big effort, but ten grueling years of working your ass off, making connections, and honing your craft whether you are in the mood to do so or not. I don’t know if the theory is solid (there may be better paths), but there is some grain of truth to it. Time and again I have witnessed people arrive here with huge aspirations only to leave after a few years and move on. For some they realized that they had different dreams. Some became jaded with the industry, others realized they didn’t love it or it wasn’t for them. Some loved it but relocated and continued the fight from a new home base.
But everyone that I know that succeeded, they fought for it. Whether they stayed in LA or fought the good fight from afar they kept writing, kept competing, meeting, networking, and above all working until they reached their aspirations.
In my time here I have fallen. I’ve landed in jobs that didn’t leave time or energy to write – jobs where I worked 60, 70, 80 hours or more a week; jobs where I returned home to eat, sleep, rinse, and repeat. My life has changed and rerouted down many new paths.
Yet after every adjustment, I have pushed myself back to the keyboard. My ten year mark approaches and I refuse to give up. Rather than take each misstep as a failure I stand up and learn from them, hoping to carve some modicum of success from those stumbles.
Some of those deviations led to numerous connections within entertainment, helping me to build a network. Others introduced me to project management, entertainment marketing, web and print promotion, and social media management. Now my skill sets here vary, but strengthening each of these areas, focusing on what I have learned rather than dwelling on perceived failures, has allowed me to keep looking ahead with a positive light. I work with my connections and apply my knowledge of marketing to move forward with a stronger plan, one that has hope of getting my writing out there and in the hands of the most important people in the process of storytelling – the audience.
Even with this most recent fall, I learned. I learned the value of a backlog and am now hard at work generating that glut of content before pushing forward, so that the next time unforeseen illness strikes everything doesn’t come crashing to a halt.
My point here boils down to this: everyone stumbles, but we can learn from our failures, and if we stand back up rather than dwelling on our mistakes, then and only then does anyone have a chance of succeeding. So while I took a misstep and allowed my blog to lapse, I am now picking myself up and moving forward with hope.
Thanks, and Happy Writing!