Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Winning Streak or Losing Streak

Okay, so I've been gone for a while! I swear I didn't mean to do that. But I was crazy-busy with planning and executing WriteOnCon (only the most amazing thing ever!) and then I moved right into work again. School starts TODAY, and I've been swamped with teacherly things, and motherly things, and well, when you stop blogging for a while, you sort of forget it's there... Tell me I'm not the only one who does that!

Anyway, I know I give you guys my professional development lectures every year. I just find them so inspirational, and I find that they almost always relate to how I'm feeling as a writer.

So we focus a lot on data at my school, because we're a Title I school and a lot of our funding comes from such things. One of our speakers was talking about winning streaks and losing streaks. He said something that resonated with me. He said that it only takes two (TWO) events to get on a streak, either winning or losing. Two successes to feel confident. To self-analyze how we're doing, and what we could be doing better. Two successes to feel like we know what we're doing. (He, of course, was talking about creating successes for kids, and I, of course, agreed and then applied it to writing/publishing.) Two successes to think, "Hey, I might be good at this."

Hopefully, you've been on a winning streak before. Maybe even in publishing.

Then he said that it only takes two disappointments or failures to be on a losing streak. Two failed tests. Two instances where a student couldn't perform what they were asked to. And this is the dangerous spiral. When you're on a losing streak, you want to give up. You criticize yourself mercilessly. You have no confidence and no motivation to keep trying. Not only do we start to think, "I can't do this," we continue that thought to "I can't do this, because I'm not good at it."

Oh, how I've felt this in writing. Two rejections in a row can get you there. Maybe my book is terrible. Maybe I'm not a good writer.

Two bad reviews. My book is lame. I can't plot. I should just give up.

The trick is to take the "failures" and make them into successes. Or ignore them. Or make it so you don't even know about them.

Or eat a lot of ice cream and have a writer's group to vent to. Ha!

No matter what, I felt that what our trainer was saying was true. I've felt it as I've pursued a writing career, and I know my students feel it as they try to learn math, science, and English. My goal is make sure EVERY interaction they have is a success, and I'm going to try to work through the losing streak in writing, anticipating a success just around this next corner...

Where are you right now? Winning streak or losing streak?


Rhiannon Nee-Salvador said...

It's very easy to feel like your writing is bad if you have negative feedback like that. I think the mark of a true writer is that they keep on writing no matter how much rejection they experience.

Sheena-kay Graham said...

It is easy for failure to slip into your thoughts to the point that nothing seems good enough. But you have to fight those feelings and remember even in failure there's room for success.

Angela Brown said...

Oddly, it's so easy to fall into a spiral of failure. There's not a whole lot of trying that has to take place once you start feeling like a failure.

Maintaining successes takes a bit of extra work because it does take continued trials and successes to keep that streak up.

For myself, I'm not sure if I'm on a winning streak or losing streak, though my be positive mind wants to say "winning!"

I felt like a huge success when I first self-published my upper YA novel and the book tour was viewed as a huge success...which doesn't always translate to sales. But I'd done what I wanted and achieved my first desired goal.

I've continued writing and didn't get any agent nibbles for my MG novel during WriteOnCon but I did receive some very encouraging comments.

So suffice it to say, I'm not where I desire to be just yet...and like the Little Engine that Could, I'll keep trying toward a relentless winning streak.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Yes, the disappointments can make you feel on a losing streak. Right now I feel like in a losing streak/holding pattern with writing. I'm just focusing on writing another story and not querying for now. Too much else is going on with work and family and I realize I wouldn't want anymore deadlines even if I could get a yes. It's a weird place to be but where I have to be right now for awhile.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Good luck with your first day of school.
Last year was a big winning streak and this year dipped a bit. But with my final book coming out next month, I'm feeling another winning streak coming on.

Mary Aalgaard said...

I think some of that is in own perception. We can chose to focus on the successful events and feelings, or we can be brought down by the negatives.

Sara B. Larson said...

Losing streaks are so hard. I've had SO SO many of those over so many years, it was so hard to keep going. Right now, I am just so excited to finally get published, I'm hoping I can hold on to that and focus on the good, despite the things that I know are coming (negative reviews... no idea of how my book will sell... etc. etc. *shudders*) Hope you have a great year ahead of you with many winning streaks, Elana!!

ilima said...

Querying was like the ultimate losing streak in my writing career. Rejection after rejection after rejection. It's funny how one "yes" can catapult you into feeling on top of the world.

Anonymous said...

I'm neither a winner or a loser... yet. I'm what most call an aspiring writer. I've written a couple of short story/flask fiction pieces that have received decent reviews at Writing.Com. Does that count? Probably the answer is 'no'.

As for getting out of the habit of blogging -- there's been a few times when a month or a little more has gone by. However, the last time that happened was over a year ago.

Kelly Polark said...

Good perspective on the power of two whether good or bad in children's education or writing. But I can relate. Two bad things happening one right after another do weigh heavy on your confidence.
Good to remember to keep encouraging kids in class AND myself!

Sheena-kay Graham said...

I already commented but please read this post about homophobia crushing a pair of co-authors publishing dream: http://www.davidpowersking.com/2013/08/unwoven-how-one-word-lead-to.html

Michelle D. Argyle said...

I'm currently in a losing streak, it feels like. I'm trying my hardest to turn it around. Thank you for this post. :)

Nichole Giles said...

I'm on the turning around part. It's about to be a winning streak, because it's just TIME for that.

Misha Gerrick said...

I'm actually on the cusp of finding out what my streak is. One win only...

Mario said...

This is an extremely informative article. You were able to grab my interest with your original ideas. I agree with most of your insightful views. Thank you for making sure you keep your readers engaged.
cool math games

friv yepi
y8 Games

See Elana's recent blog posts

Recent Posts Widget