Tuesday, July 28, 2009
I have come to believe, deep within my central channels, that the above is not a question of talent … but rather a decision backed by stubborn perseverance.
So I’m just back from a writing conference during which I survived some potentially demoralizing opinions about my book idea. The truth is I’m thankful for the experience because the reality of the “worst that can happen” is actually far less terrifying than fear of it. Fear only comes with the unknown. I now KNOW the worst and guess what? I’m still breathing. What’s more, I’m still writing I think, in part, because I believe writing is a skill. The nature of skills is such that to be successful at them, they require practice. Lots and lots of practice.
To illustrate, I have to pause to talk about a book my husband made me listen to on a recent road trip entitled, Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell. In it, Gladwell discusses the rule of 10,000. 10,000 is the number of hours it takes to become a phenomenon in a certain arena, to become what most of us would consider hugely successful. He discusses Mozart, who, by the time most of us considered him a genius at his craft, had already been composing for nearly twenty years. It's only the work composed after that amount of time that is hailed as extraordinary. It just so happened Mozart started composing when most of us were learning to read so by the time he hit his early twenties, he'd already acquired amazing musical proficiency.
Gladwell also discusses Bill Gates, who, by the time the software wave was about to crest, had already been computer programming for 10,000 hours because he just so happened to go to a high school that had time-sharing opportunities on one of those early, rare, room-sized computers.
You get the point I'm trying to make. The more a person works at their skill, the better they become. Writing is no different. Consider Ernest Hemingway waking up at 6 AM every morning and writing until noon. That’s six hours, seven days a week. Without fail. How many of us can say the same? How many of us are willing to put in that amount of time despite outside distractions and demoralizing disappointments?
So while it’s very easy to get paralyzed in your writing with destructive questions of, “Am I going to make it or not?” it would serve you much better to just make the decision you are going to make it … and then do the work. One way to tell that you are going to be a success is if you are still writing after a disappointment.
So how about you? What kinds of disappointments have you written through?