On Failure and Batman – a guest post by Katherine Rebekah
As an uber nerd, there’s no real life event that I can’t relate to fiction in some way. While I want to give you tips on dealing with and learning from failure, I didn’t want to go it alone. So I’ve included advice from the most reliable (fictional) source I could find: Batman. (Bonus points if you read this entire post in a raspy Batman voice.)
In “Batman Begins,” a young Bruce falls down a well, and his father, Thomas, comes to his rescue. While carrying Bruce back into the house, Thomas utters one of my favorite lines in the movie:
“And why do we fall, Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.”
I love this not only because it’s influential throughout the film, but also because it reveals a truth about failure that we don’t often hear.
We’re told that every successful person fails, that greatness is the byproduct of failure. It’s true. However, success doesn’t result from a failure but from how we react to that failure and what we learn from it. This is especially true for writers because failure is something we face regularly.
With that in mind, here are tips for, as Thomas said, learning to pick yourself up.
Allow yourself that pity party, but keep it short.
Warning. Despite what you may have been told, masking emotions doesn’t make you strong. It does turn you into a melodramatic ball of angst and depression, which is one way in which we don’t want to mimic Batman.
So vent your frustrations to your cat, scream into your pillow, do some serious sobbing, stuff your face with chocolate. Just don’t do that for long. Let your emotions out, and let them go.
Be positive about yourself and other people.
The best way I’ve found to counter negative emotions, which seem to play on “repeat” after a failure, is to say positive things out loud.
For example: “The only reason my friends were harsh is because they want me to become better. I have wonderful, honest friends. I’m proud of myself for sharing my work. My writing will be better because of this.”
Cheesy? Maybe. But it lifts me out of a slump. If you say something out out loud long enough, you’ll start to believe it, and positive emotions will follow.
Evaluate why you failed.
Although it may feel like reopening a freshly healed wound, this step is vital to any sort of personal development. Review your work, be objective about your weaknesses, and take criticism seriously.
Understanding what went wrong is not enough. You must practice by stepping back and making it right. Apply what you’ve learned from evaluating your work.
Repeat the process.
You’re going to mess up again. You may even humiliate yourself (I know I have), but the beauty is that you improve each time. Follow these steps, and you’ll be cleaning up the streets of Gotham. . . er, writing like a pro in no time.
All of this is fine advice, but I’ve saved my best for last.
If you learn nothing else from me today, memorize that quote from “Batman Begins.” The next time you fail, recite it to yourself, pretend you are Batman, stare melodramatically into the night, and imagine epic Hans Zimmer music playing in the background.
That always works for me.
Katherine is a homeschooled high schooler who has developed an addiction to coffee and stories. She spends most of her time reading, writing or rambling on her blog, Katherine Rebekah. She may also be living under the delusion that she is, in fact, Batman, but this can neither be confirmed nor denied. You can find her on Twitter and Pinterest.