If pursuing writing as a career has taught me anything, it’s that I can’t achieve what I don’t aim for. If I sit around all day browsing DeviantArt or Twitter, my writing will suffer. If I don’t query, actively attend critique group, or let total strangers read my writing, I probably won’t get anywhere. If I want to succeed, I have to try.
On my first day as a French teacher, I handed out a syllabus, pointed out the percentage categories for each part of their grade, and then said, “If you want to pass this class, all you have to do is try.” Over the course of the next semester, I discovered only a handful of my students actually understood what I meant.
The thing is, the class was set up to make passing simple. If they paid attention to lectures and did their homework themselves, it was relatively easy to earn a B in the class. That’s all they needed to do. Pay attention. Do homework. Instead, they copied from friends and Google translated entire paragraphs, and then they came crying to me about low grades and not being able to understand anything I said in class*.
What they didn’t realize—and what many of us don’t realize—is that they were doing the bare minimum. They wanted to put in the least amount of effort in order to get a huge pay-off. The work they were willing to do was sowing the seeds for failure.
When I get nervous about querying or entering a contest (PitchWars opens on Wednesday!), I remind myself of the talk I gave my students. I won’t fail if I don’t try, but I won’t succeed, either.
How do you keep yourself motivated to keep “trying” at your craft?
Michelle is entering Pitch Wars because…well…probably because she’s insane. (Most writers are, you know). She snickers at her own jokes and has an affinity for 1940s style dresses. You can follow *cough*stalk*cough* her here on Mondays, or nearly every day on Twitter as @redactionaire.
*Yes, there were exceptions. THERE ARE ALWAYS EXCEPTIONS! But this example requires a focus on the lazy bums, not the go-getters J