Society of Children’s Bookswriters and Illustrators

There’s Something “Right” About Getting it Wrong

I don’t know how many of you were raised hearing, “If you can’t do it right, don’t do it at all.”

I just spoke with a friend of mine who reminded me of  hearing that as he was growing up.

It brought me back.   Funny how you don’t have to hear that phrase too many times before it
starts tumbling around in your head or even worse, in your heart.

And it tumbles into the spaces of your brain, just as you  are thinking of attempting something you’ve never done before.  Just as you’re thinking of attempting  something no one has ever taught you – as you’re thinking about exploring  something new and, according to the conventional wisdom of your family, is just  a little crazy or something “we don’t do.”   And if you listen, you stop. You don’t try.  It’s too risky.

I often think of when I began writing books for  children.  I didn’t know anything about  ”right”  writing.  In fact, I didn’t even know I didn’t know  anything.  But I was invited to an SCBWI  (Society of Children’s Bookwriters and Illustrators)  critique group.  If I had known how little I knew, I probably  would never have even read my first manuscript.  But because I was so completely uninformed, I read a very “un–right”  first attempt.  Nobody in that group said  my story was awful.  Nobody said it was  good.  They just asked me questions about  plot, and audience, and voice, and character, and a host of other things I  didn’t know.  And because they were some  of the most encouraging people on the planet, I dared to learn and return and  read again, and learn some more, and eventually get published.

It’s amazing how daring to try what you can’t get “right”  the first time encourages you to try again.
But if we measure any possibility, challenge, opportunity, experience,  job, “crazy” idea by whether we can do it “right,” we end up living in a box of  undone dreams.

It’s scary to get it “wrong” when you’ve tried to get it  “right” all your life.  But there’s a lot  of exciting stuff that happens in the faltering or failed attempts, the  mistakes, the flubs, the “foot-in-your-mouth” conversations, the falls, the  walked-through fears when you go out on a limb and don’t care if you “get it  right” but rather find excitement and growth in the trying.

And eventually, you get a few things “right.”  But as soon as you do, there’s something else  just around the corner that presents a new challenge for getting it wrong.

But now I remember something else I heard a lot. “If at  first you don’t succeed; try, try again.”

And that helps me remember the exhilaration, endless possibilities,  and joy of discovery when I experience how “right” it is to get it wrong.

Love, Ruth

Ruth Vander Zee
Author of WOMAN MEETS JESUS
Journey of Faith

Ruth Vander Zee

Ruth Vander Zee
On our journey, I believe Jesus desires us to be our authentic, child-of-God selves.

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Ruth Vander Zee
WOMAN meets JESUS
How Jesus encourages, empowers and equips women on their personal journey of faith.
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