People don’t give enough credit to the act of learning, focusing so much on labeling people “ahead” or “behind” when really, we’re all progressing. The following experience is generously shared by blogger Amy Hopkins:
“When I was a kid, I was so bad at reading I was put in a remedial class. The books were terrible, my parents never read to me and I hated it.
I got bullied a bit though, so I’d hang at the library when I wasn’t in class. There was nothing else to do, so I read. I read a lot. I read slowly, I read books below my age level.
I got better. I got faster. I picked bigger books and they were, for me, better. More interesting. Higher stakes.
I kept reading. I got fast- really fast. My spelling and comprehension improved. I went from the bottom of my class, to being nominated for academic awards. My friend, who found reading slow and laborious thought I was gifted, and she was jealous.
Not so jealous that she didn’t give it a go. First one book, then another. It took her a total of seven hours to read a book I read in thirty minutes.
Within two years, we were racing each other through books.
What she thought was talent was just practice and habit. She thought she couldn’t do it, that she lacked something. She just lacked practice.
Never blame lack of talent on your shortcomings. Athletes are called gifted and talented and some of them are, but all of them train and practice far, far more than someone who doesn’t rely on it for an income.
You want to be a writer but don’t have the talent? Bull. You just need the practice. You can get there, no matter where you start from. You just need to practice and develop the habit.”
Talent is a lovely thing, but skill is far more valuable. Skill can be acquired, developed, and honed. Humble, active, persistent practice amplifies existing talent or gives glory to years of simple effort.
So much is available to us, and delivered so quickly, that people overlook the beauty of practice. Identifying as an “aspiring author”, “amateur artist”, or “beginning writer” is a risk, as this draws attention to a lack of accepted credentials, but everyone had a first project. The difference lies in time, practice, and risk taking.
The following are five principles of healthy doing. This is no to-do list. Instead, these are thoughts to encourage a positive and purposeful experience during your writing practice.
Doing vs. Being: Consider the difference in the phrases, “I am painting” vs “I am a painter”. Someone who paints for the first time in their life can say they are painting. In that way, they are the same as the expert who has painted for half a century. Focus on the doing if the pressure is ruining the experience. Be writing.
Invest Action and Energy: There is a place on a wheel where the tread bites into the ground and the bike is pushed forward. This is the friction, the action where ground is gained. Without this point of contact, there is no progress. What simple (and simple does not mean easy) things can you do now, today, to move forward in your project? Doing things brings the goal closer.
Progress is Incremental: “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, to quote a common phrase. While chugging along on a path of regular practice, incorporate small progressive additions over time. Take lessons, join critique groups, and accept responsibilities to increase what you know to improve your skills. See the quote from Maya Angelou. Couldn’t say it better ourselves.
Inner Motivation: Respect the opinions of others, but don’t demand their understanding or validation. You are the only one who clearly sees your goals, and only you can accurately judge your position in relation to them. Fight for your work time, recognize good intentions (even in poor advice), and evaluate any feedback with a clear vision of your goal.
Have Heroes: Look for people who do what you want to do, who are where you want to be, and learn from them. Read their work, study their progress, meet them if possible, and find more heroes. Appreciating others’ accomplishments is wonderful, but also seek to revise your hero list regularly in order to refine what you want from your writing career.
Essentially, do. Write and create. Appreciate the process. Continually progress. Few things matter (or feel as good) as living in the present as you do. “I am a writer” can never be said without saying, honestly and often, “I am writing”.
Experience shared by:
Amy Hopkins http://amyhopkinswriter.wordpress.com