Slow Progress Is Still Progress

April 7th, 2012

courage and single-mindedness overcomes fear

Last weeked DH and I took our daughter, Blur, to a park. It was so amazing to watch her play on the slides with the other kids.

I admit I was stressed the whole time because the slides were so much taller than anything she’d previously slid down and the kids were zooming around, pushing past Blur in their excitement. Our daughter, on the other hand, didn’t seem to notice any of it. Even though she’s developed a fear of heights, she was determined to enjoy one of her favorite activities.

She took her time, concentrating on her goal of getting to the top of the chosen slide and then waited until she’d psyched herself up to let go. Each grin as she zipped down was precious.

She was slower going up and needed a lot of time to convince herself the ride was worth the fear, which irritated some of the other kids. They had to wait or find another slide to go down. Sometimes they pushed by on the stairs. Thankfully the slides and stairs were encased in safety bars or I would have been frantic, not just stressed.

It didn’t matter to Blur how fast the other kids were going or that they pushed her aside. She never missed a step. Always cautious and ever mindful of her goal, she made her way to the top of the slide and enjoyed the ride down.

When we left the park, I was still amazed at my daughter’s single-mindedness and courage. She showed me what it means to be confident in yourself and your ambitions. Even the one time she tried to climb the ladder instead of the stairs and got stuck, she kept her cool and focused on finding a way out of her predicament so she could accomplish her goal of sliding down another time.

I wonder what I could accomplish if I followed her example. If I stopped agonizing over my slow progress and the other “kids” zooming around, if instead I concentrated just on my goal, what would happen?

How about you? What could you do if you had the courage and single-mindedness of a child intent on just one more slide?

Writing in the Face of Fear

February 11th, 2012

I’m getting ready to re-vision my blog. By that I mean I’m going to take a short break to brainstorm some great ideas for future posts. I want to make this a place you can stop by to pick up handy tips and inspirational messages to help you in your day-to-day life, as well as catch a weekly laugh.

That being said, I don’t want to just leave you high and dry while I work up a new plan, so I’ll be re-posting some of the best from the last year. Enjoy!

Writing in the Face of Fear

In his book The Courage to Write, Ralph Keyes tells us that every writer worth his or her salt has a fear of writing.  It’s not just a fear of being rejected by a traditional publisher, although fear of rejection often causes the would-be author to become what Ralph calls a “trunk writer” (someone who writes something, then puts it in a drawer or “trunk”).  There’s also the fear of the blank page (or blank screen).  We writers give it the nice euphemism of “writer’s block,” but more often it’s fear.  What if I can’t come up with anything?  What if I do and it’s crap?

Brenda Ueland has an answer to that in her book If You Want to Write.  She says it doesn’t matter.  She dares each of us to try to write the worst story we can because she believes even in the worst we can find great stuff.  Brenda cautions the would-be author not to get too hung up on technical details of writing and encourages us all to put something of ourselves into everything we do.

While I agree with Brenda on both parts, Independent Authors do need to make each work as flawless as possible before going to print.  It’s impossible to get anything perfect, but it is possible to make everything the best you can.  Ralph gives several suggestions on how to do this in The Courage to Write. Another good source for things to look for is Edward C. Patterson’s eBook Are You Still Submitting to Traditional Publishers? When it comes to technical aspects such as punctuation, my favorite resource is The St. Martin’s Handbook.  If you plan to freelance for magazines and newspapers, you’ll probably want a recent edition of The Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual.

Knowing I have several good resources at hand helps me face the fear of writing, but I still find myself frustrated by the blank page on occasion.  Ralph points out that many great writers have what he calls rituals to help them get started.  Having a ritual may seem like a waste of time (sharpening 20 pencils before writing like Hemingway did certainly qualifies in my mind), but if it’s what gets you in the right frame of mind then it’s worth the “wasted” time.  Personally, I know I can’t string more than two words together without having my desk relatively cleared of clutter and a hot cup of Earl Grey tea at hand.  Whatever you need to do to psych yourself up to write, do it.  Just don’t let your ritual become an excuse not to write.

Although I won’t go so far as to say embrace your fear, I will say that knowing the fear is there for your fellow writers can be a comfort.  You’re not alone.  Remembering that and having a few good resources at  hand makes writing a little more enjoyable and a lot less frightening.

How do you face your fears?

Writing in the Face of Fear

August 12th, 2011

In his book The Courage to Write, Ralph Keyes tells us that every writer worth his or her salt has a fear of writing.  It’s not just a fear of being rejected by a traditional publisher, although fear of rejection often causes the would-be author to become what Ralph calls a “trunk writer” (someone who writes something, then puts it in a drawer or “trunk”).  There’s also the fear of the blank page (or blank screen).  We writers give it the nice euphemism of “writer’s block,” but more often it’s fear.  What if I can’t come up with anything?  What if I do and it’s crap?

Brenda Ueland has an answer to that in her book If You Want to Write.  She says it doesn’t matter.  She dares each of us to try to write the worst story we can because she believes even in the worst we can find great stuff.  Brenda cautions the would-be author not to get too hung up on technical details of writing and encourages us all to put something of ourselves into everything we do.

While I agree with Brenda on both parts, Independent Authors do need to make each work as flawless as possible before going to print.  It’s impossible to get anything perfect, but it is possible to make everything the best you can.  Ralph gives several suggestions on how to do this in The Courage to Write. Another good source for things to look for is Edward C. Patterson’s eBook Are You Still Submitting to Traditional Publishers? When it comes to technical aspects such as punctuation, my favorite resource is The St. Martin’s Handbook.  If you plan to freelance for magazines and newspapers, you’ll probably want a recent edition of The Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual.

Knowing I have several good resources at hand helps me face the fear of writing, but I still find myself frustrated by the blank page on occasion.  Ralph points out that many great writers have what he calls rituals to help them get started.  Having a ritual may seem like a waste of time (sharpening 20 pencils before writing like Hemingway did certainly qualifies in my mind), but if it’s what gets you in the right frame of mind then it’s worth the “wasted” time.  Personally, I know I can’t string more than two words together without having my desk relatively cleared of clutter and a hot cup of Earl Grey tea at hand.  Whatever you need to do to psych yourself up to write, do it.  Just don’t let your ritual become an excuse not to write.

Although I won’t go so far as to say embrace your fear, I will say that knowing the fear is there for your fellow writers can be a comfort.  You’re not alone.  Remembering that and having a few good resources at  hand makes writing a little more enjoyable and a lot less frightening.