Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Again. And Again. And Again, Please.

How many of you have ever taken a lesson? Say you learned to play the piano or some other musical instrument. Or you're an athlete, and you trained everyday for years for one race, or you retrain yourself every year for a marathon, hoping to better your time.

I am musically trained. (Meaning I have taken lessons in various forms over the years.) I have done that train and retrain, practicing until the music no longer has meaning, it's been broken down into so many phrases, notes, or atoms. I have taken it all apart and put it back together again so I have the music down cold.

I came into writing with the attitude: 'Hey, I'm a reader. I know what I like. I can predict so many of these books, I could write one in my sleep."

Yes, you can laugh at me, too. Even right now I want to reach back in time and slap myself silly for such arrogance.

I know better now. I've gone through some stages here, though, and wondered if anyone else had travelled the same path as well. Here's what I've identified as the   stage process of becoming anything worthwhile:

1. ADMIRATION: when you look at a performer, be it musical or some other form, and think, "I can do that. I bet I could do it better than they did, even though it was breathtaking."

2. ENTHUSIASM: when you begin the path to your goal, and nothing seems to slow or halt your progression towards it.

3. REALITY: when you realize that the person you were so sure you were better than really knows a whole lot more than you do about the topic. They have achieved of level of proficiency that is far above your skill level. It will be years before you can even come close, and even then it might be a false hope.

4. HEARTBREAK: when you know that the dreams that feed you so full have now dried up, and you are abandoned on the path to mastery. It's swim or be swept back down stream.

5. RESOLUTION: It doesn't matter know what came before or who you were, what thoughts or pride you may have had. You look neither left or right, but trudge forward, keeping your eye on the prize.

I've only recently discovered this applies to writing as well. I know. Shocker.

What about you? Are there any of these rules you agree with? Would you add more? What do you do to get over the hump of rule number 4?


  1. I agree. Relationships are like this, too. And I think it's like a cycle that starts over. The trick is moving through the heartbreak back to enthusiasm as fast as you can. Every writer needs discipline, but I think the ones that write enjoyable stuff have lots of enthusiasm.

  2. I think part of learning a new skill is realizing what we don't know! When I started trying to write a novel, I had no idea how much technique went into it! It took me years before I produced something publishable, but I enjoyed the journey because I loved to write.

    I think it all comes back to your passion for writing. If you love it, you press on, even when you know success isn't going to come easily or quickly. Hang in there and have fun with it!

  3. I think this is the metamorphosis of almost any goal. We have to admire it and think we can do it and want to do it and determine we will and have struggles even heartbreak. Hey, that sounds exactly like the steps of plot structure! Especially as we overcome discouragement and determine again to go for the goal. That's what makes the main character the hero of his story. And us the hero/ines of our own stories. Go go go!



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