I once had the pleasure of chatting with a prolific author, who was traditionally published, and she shared how the rights to many of her backlist titles had reverted back to her. She laughingly told me that those books from early in her career were dreadful. When I asked her what she’d done with those titles when she regained the rights to them, she told me that she’d self-published them.
Huh? They were dreadful. But you published them again. So people could find them. And read them. And they’re dreadful?
This author clearly had a growth mindset. She was able to critically view her early work compared to her present offerings and still find the value of sharing those books with readers.
Growth mindset presumes that skill sets can be developed over time. Mistakes are expected and lauded as learning opportunities. There’s no shame in not knowing something, or not being very good at something.
While having a growth mindset is applicable to so many areas, I love its implications for our writing practices. Whether we’re revisiting older manuscripts, reviewing tough editorial comments, or participating in a critique group, we don’t have to shame ourselves when our writing isn’t working. Instead, once the sting subsides (because we’re human, right?, and we have feelings), we can approach feedback as an opportunity to learn a new skill or to improve our writing craft.
I appreciate the permission growth mindset provides me to not know everything, to not need perfection to feel accomplished, to not hide my writing just because I haven’t mastered all the skills yet. Growth mindset stops comparisonitis cold. It’s a gentler way to practice writing, and I gotta say, it feels good.
For a deeper exploration of growth mindset, read this article in Brain Pickings.