Wednesday, June 1, 2016

IWSG - Failure Isn't An Option


It’s time for another group posting of the IWSGInsecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month and encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

Our hashtag is @IWSG


The awesome co-hosts today are…



  Be sure to visit the



As a writer, you've chosen a profession that introduces you to the pain of rejection. It doesn't matter if you're seeking to self-publish or traditionally publish. The mere act of producing a book invites the possibility of heartache. If not publishers or agents, readers and reviewers possess the power to drop you to your knees with a single word.

From 1990 through to 2008, I received enough rejection letters to wallpaper our ensuite. By the beginning of the new millennium, I had signed with three agents. The first one had a massive heart attack, the second had a nervous breakdown, the third was a renowned agent from NYC who ignored me for two years. When I asked for a divorce, she told me I had no concept of the business.

While marketing my first novel Dead Witness, a blogger emailed to ask if I still wanted her 1-star review. Although I'd received 25+ reviews for Dead Witness, her email left me inconsolable. The best part, recently, Amazon cut hers and several 5-stars reviews as if they're never existed.

Every time I received a negative response, it took the wind out of my sails and left me gasping for air. Yet, I couldn't give up. Nor could I take drugs, booze, or pot to make myself feel better. I had to find something to sooth the debilitating thoughts inside my head. Something that would remind me who I was.

I'd like to share with you what I found.

It's not magic. There's no mystic powers. It's a few thousand-years-old technique called meditation: the art of using your breath and a repetitive mantra to simply quiet the mind and relax the body.

If you've never meditated, it's simple. You find a quiet place, sit, back straight, feet planted firmly on the floor, hands resting in your lap. Close your eyes. Focus on breathing. Don't try to control it. Use a mantra; there are many. For instance: Breath through your nose while saying to yourself: Ahhh. Exhale while thinking: Ummm.

When you are ready, meditate on each of these 4 questions, one at a time ... then wait:
Who am I ...? 
What do I want ...?
Why am I here ...?
What am I grateful for ...? 
Don't worry if the answers don't come. Focus on breathing. Relaxing. When your mind wanders, bring it back to breathing. Do this for ten minutes. If it's too difficult to concentrate, type guided meditation in the search window at YouTube and pick one of the many links that appear.

Meditation will take you to that source of healing, to the birthplace of creativity. Slowly but surely, the bouts of depression will weaken, and you will find yourself calm and at peace. If something negative happens, if you falter, find a quiet spot, take ten minutes to meditate, and remember: Failure isn't an option.

Here are a few of my favourite tapes:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IzV6J4WCwRM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kqc7nMpv47Q

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NvYOajrSLWU






81 comments :

  1. Sage advice. Our source of real peace and security is within. In each cell of our being. You've been through the wringer and you've manage to thrive. Always willing to encourage and nurture. I'm looking forward to enjoying tea and cookies. Your offer reminds me of the cookies you shared with me at the La Cruz Writers' Group. Hugs.

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    1. Happy days, Lynn. Thanks for your support and friendship. See you in LC.

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  2. Amazon removed 1 and 5 star reviews? How curious. When I hit rock bottom, rock music somehow brings me around. That and a good long bike ride.

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    1. I should probably have been more specific. They removed several of the reviews in the past 2/3 years. One day I noticed some of them weren't there. One being the 1-star. I thought it was my computer. LOL. But then later, a month or three, another was gone. I've heard this has happened to other authors on Amazon.

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  3. Thank you for this post, Joylene. I've considered meditation. But have yet to try it. No, failure is not an option. All the best to you.

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    1. Youtube is a wonderful source of great meditation sites, Murees. I hope you'll find the perfect one and will let us know what you think later.

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  4. I didn't realize that Amazon did this with reviews. I need to go check my books. lol I agree that we need to take time to calm and refocus. I do this with scripture and other positive thoughts. It always helps me gain a better perspective. Enjoy the rest of the week!

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    1. I didn't pay attention and then one day I noticed the numbers didn't match to what I remembered. Then I noticed a few missing. Weeks later, I realized the 1-star was missing. At first I thought the authors had removed them. No. Strange, eh? Thanks, Karen.

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  5. I've been wanting to meditate. I am going to try try these exercises and wait to see what answers I get. Thanks!

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    1. Let me know what you think, Chrys. I love the sense of peace meditation gives me.

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  6. Thanks Joylene, for this wonderful advice. I have been thinking of starting my meditation. You have inspired me to do so. Its sad that you had to go through the heartbreak of leaving three agents. Thank God, you didn't give up. Hugs and here is more power to you and your dreams.

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  7. Thanks for the advice, Jolene! I don't meditate but I do have a similar concept I use when things get too much or if I'm having a meltdown. Basically I shut my brain down by breathing deeply for a few minutes, then I deliberately force myself to think different thoughts/not concentrate on whatever was bothering me - sometimes it works, sometimes I have to go read a book or bake a cake or do something else practical before my mind quietens down. It's a coping mechanism I learned when I first started with anxiety. But I would like to try meditation in the future!

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    1. If and when you give it a try, I promise you won't be disappointed. Thanks for visiting, Rachel.

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  8. Excellent information here for meditating. I pray and my mind wanders, I hate to admit that. Do you find while meditating it is easier to keep other thoughts out of your head? I'm starting a yoga class next week and I believe they use these techniques in yoga too. I'll see soon.

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    1. I pray and immediately feel vulnerable. Meditation quietens my mind and allows me to wait and become calm. Nothing ever bad happens during meditation. Thanks, Janet.

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  9. You're so right that one little negative word can wipe out all the positive - in our own minds, anyway. I have trouble sitting still, but I find weeding my garden or working out helps quiet my mind. I wonder if I could combine mediation with those...

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    1. I love gardening too. I think meditation would be a great addition to your workouts. Thanks, Nicki.

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  10. I've never tried meditation, but with stress overload happening too often, maybe it's time I did. Thanks for an inspirational post.

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    1. Thanks, Lori. I hope you do try it. Big difference in my life.

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  11. Thanks for the advice, Joylene and for sharing your experiences. You are so right. I like Stephen King's attitude to rejection - reject it right back and concentrate on those who enjoy your work. So true but difficult to do. I will give your meditation a try if I have the patience to sit still for those few moments. A lovely, heartfelt post. Thank you for sharing. Have a lovely joyous June. You deserve it!

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    1. Thanks so much, Nicola. Have a great day.

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  12. At least that one star review vanished.
    Now that's what I'd call bad luck with agents.
    I don't meditate, but I've found prayer works just as well.

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    1. I generally follow prayer with meditation. Helps me to accept the good things in my life. Thanks, Alex.

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  13. Great advice, Joylene. Meditation helps overcome a lot.

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  14. Meditation is better than dumping the wrong things into your body.

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  15. I like the mediation links. I like the site Omvana too if you want to check it out, however, the site does not always do well with Chrome browser I often have to use MS browser. I don't have any problems with it. http://play.omvana.com/sounds-of-nature/pirate-ship-bay This is my favorite to listen to.

    I have tried mediation several times over the years. I still have not developed a routine nor stay with it. It does help tho when I will do it. I also pray as Alex said which works a mite better because I will do forever and always lol, but don't normally use it the way I would mediation,

    Great post.
    Juneta @ Writer's Gambit


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    1. Thanks so much, Juneta. I'll give it a try.

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  16. My form of meditation is analysis. I try to look at each criticism to see if it was something I should have done better, or if it was reader preference only. It helps me know where I can improve, and let go of things I have no control over. That and I might drown my sorrows in a bottle of wine every once in a while...

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    1. They say a glass of wine is good for you. Releases the endorphins! Thanks, Loni.

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  17. I've never tried meditation. Exercise is usually my form of relaxation when things get me down.

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    1. If exercise gets you in the zone, that's a good thing. Thanks, Susan.

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  18. I'm glad to hear that in spite of the challenges you faced, you kept moving forward.

    I don't do meditation but I exercise when I need to relieve stress.

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    1. Exercising the body will definitely help the mind. Thanks, Cynthia.

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  19. I run to relieve stress, but I'm down to try your meditation technique. Thanks for sharing! Ta-Nehisi Coates declared in an interview that writing is a very depressing thing, because the process itself is about failure. It's an act of courage. I totally agree. I think that writers are like show people. Once you're in it, you can't do anything else. The best advice I can give to new writers is to ignore mean people. Ha!

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    1. Great advice, Adrienne. The thing about meditation is it takes you back to that spiritual place where your creativity was first born. While prayer is talking to God, meditation is listening.

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  20. I needed to read this post today morning. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Olivia. Happy IWSG.

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  21. No matter how strong your self-confidence, the things that happened to you would take a huge bite out of anyone. I'm glad to see that you survived the ordeal and are stronger than ever.

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  22. Great Post Joylene!!! Writer's do need armor made of steel, and good relaxation techniques. Thank You.

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  23. I'm a firm believer in meditation. I never find it easy to enter into, but if I get that quiet moment and practice my breathing, I'm so rewarded. It's the one time I empty my head of those pesky characters.

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    1. I struggle with meditation if I don't concentrate. If it's really difficult, I come back to it later. Thanks, Lee.

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  24. Thank you for your great post. I am reminded to do what I need to do to quiet my mind and let the creative juices flow freely through my thoughts. I have never been able to mediate unless it's guided and filled with visuals, but exercise and a bit of sweat does the trick. Thank you :)

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    1. Guided meditation tapes are plentiful online, Erika. I would hunt down the one that best suits you. Exercise is great, but we still need to be still and calm. Breathing is so important.

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  25. I recently heard a very good talk at a local Romance Writers of America meeting in which the speaker said we should always do reviews as they are the life's blood of writers, and if we can't give a 3, 4, or 5 give no review, but we should never, ever read our own....

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    1. That is excellent advice! Thanks, Elizabeth.

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  26. I'm so glad you persevered despite all the discouragements, or there wouldn't be your great stories to share! Meditation isn't my thing, but I when I feel particularly frazzled I sometimes do breathe deeply and try to still my mind before beginning to pray, so I guess there are similarities. There is no right or wrong way to pray, but for me, prayer isn't just talking to God. It is a two way conversation that involves praise, petition and proactive listening. "In words or the absence of words, prayer is openness to the presence of God." However we achieve it, a quiet mind is always conducive to the creativity we seek. :)

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    1. Meditation before prayer is a great way to deal with life's issues. It's always amazing to me that after I calm myself, the stuff that had me all frazzled doesn't seem quite so bad. As I've mentioned before, prayer is talking to God, meditation is listening.

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  27. I'm so glad you found something that works for you. Don't worry about people who don't get you or your writing. Everyone has different tastes, esp in art. Decide on what writing excites you and makes you proud. Concentrate on that. Ignore the haters, focus on your "brand," and get your own niche of those who feel the same as you. Soon you'll have fans. (I'm still working on this part. It's hard...)

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    1. Thanks, Lexa. I need to toughen up. Sadly, I'm mush when it comes to criticism. Though i appreciate constructive criticize very much.

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  28. Good on you, Joylene. Thanks for the reminder! I do a spiritual practice every morning, but I really must use it to help with the writing process as well.
    p.s. one negative comment about our book can crush us, I know what you mean!!

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    1. I know you do. Thanks for your support, Yvette. Give a shout out when you need some moral support.

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  29. It's true not everyone will like what we've written but rejection and bad reviews can sting. Interesting to read about your meditation and how it works. I might just try it. Thanks, Joylene.

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    1. I had done meditation years ago, but got lazy. I've been doing it down for almost a year. So glad I am. It's giving me inner strength and calm. Thanks, Suzanne.

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  30. I tried to find a meditation that worked for me many years ago. My spiritual guide/teacher then told me that communing with nature was my meditation, which was great as long as I could get out in the mountains or the forests. Now I need to find a way to do this in a wheelchair, as that has added to my stress instead. (Plus the one star reviews that tell me that I know nothing about horses - even though I was an equestrian journalist).

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    1. We have to be tough, that's for sure. Deep breath. Think happy thoughts. I pat my computer and tell her how precious she is. That helps. Thanks, Roland.

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  31. Thanks for sharing this, Joylene. I don't suppose anyone will ever be able to explain why despite the many good words about our books, the 1-star ratings leave us inconsolable.

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    1. They should try. It would help us, I'm sure. Thanks, Joy.

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  32. Hi Joylene,

    Just gone three in the morning and I finally get to your excellent blog. Please forgive me if, due to being so tired, that my comment is rambling, bordering on incoherent. In other words, just about the same as all my comments.

    What a thoughtful post, Joylene. A post that also resonates with your never give up attitude, despite those who would rather be naysayers than "yaysayers."

    Nothing like a bit of meditation. Positive affirmations work for me. That, along with embracing the irony that is life.

    Thank you for this, Joylene.

    Gary

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  33. Oh man, you are so right. It's ALL about rejection! I need to learn to meditate. I'm familiar with it, but haven't practiced enough to really get good at it. Great post.

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    1. Practise, Alexia, that's all it takes. Thanks for co-hosting.

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  34. I lost a year with an agent who also had a melt down. Hmm. After that, I tried a few others- every time I found one interested in my books, they quit. I took it as a message from the universe and gave up...on the agent hunt. Not on the books. I still feel the sting of the negatives, but like you I find my center, though I use prayer- which is pretty much just meditation with a whole lot of whining and begging to a higher power.

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    1. Elizabeth, I find mediation before prayer helps me hear the answers. Thanks for visiting.

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  35. When I first read your post about meditation and dealing with stress, I focused on you, your sense of humor and overcoming set backs. Then I became aware I was seeking more comfort food than usual, so my thoughts when back to your meditation idea.

    As I read the other comments, I realized many individuals have developed methods to deal with disappointment and times when life overwhelms.

    This morning while still in bed, I concentrated on my breath. I recognized holding tension somewhere behind by breast bone. I started visualizing the tension flowing out of my body on my exhale. Then refreshing energy flowing in on my inhale.

    I practiced this for maybe ten minutes. Now as I walk around, I recognize the same cycle. Nourishing energy on the inhale, stress released on the exhale.

    Many folks were touched through your example, including me. Thank you for this post.

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    1. Thank you, Lynn. Keep practicing, it'll become second-nature.

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  36. I love the title!
    I agree - failure is NOT an option.
    Thanks for the reminder, Joylene...and for the inspiration!

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  37. I used to walk hours by the water to cure myself from the rejection blues. I've had agents who've ignored me too.

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    1. It's not a pleasant experience. Luckily, we can and will move past it. Thanks, Medeia.

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  38. Purging stress is so important.

    I don't meditate exactly, but sometimes it's nice to have time to just let my mind wander.

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    1. Unfortunately, my mind wandering is my problem. Reigning it in helps to calm me down. Thanks for visiting.

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  39. I don't meditate exactly like that but I strive to have time each day just to think/ponder/study scripture/pray. It's essential to staying sane. I know the answers to all those questions, and that helps keep me grounded and focused on what is most important. That isn't to say the rejection doesn't get to me. It does, publishing is a harsh business.

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    1. And it's not as if we have a choice. Writing is in our blood. So to speak. Thanks, Sara.

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  40. So true, 25 five stars but that one star will kill you. I love your meditation advice, it does work. Let the negativity go! Walking also works, getting out in nature always gets my muse working and helps me let go.

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    1. Thanks, Yolanda. I live in a beautiful place, but sadly don't walk enough. I should change that.

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  41. I'm a believer in meditation. It quiets my mind and let's my brain percolate with a different rhythm, a more natural one. Reading about your agents, made me recall my experiences in this business. How much chance plays in all of this! Really.

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Thank you for visiting my blog. Please come in and sit for while. We will talk about writing. We will share our dreams. Then I will serve tea and cookies. Home made and Gluten Free.