Thursday, March 31, 2016

Success And Complacency

I’m a huge Carolina Panthers fan.  They had a great year.  Unfortunately, one of the problems my Panthers had this year was that they lost when they went into a game thinking they were better than they actually were.  When they started believing everyone who told them how awesome they were, they lost their mojo.

I used that rather labored analogy to say that writing is the same way.  I think most of us have had at least one piece of writing we consider a success.  It feels great when we produce it, and it feels even better when someone tells us how great it was.  However, problems arise when we start buying our press on that.

Remember how hard you worked before you found success?  You likely stayed up nights and weekends laboring over every piece of writing you did.  If you’re anything like me, you wrote, re-wrote, and edited the hell out of your work to make sure it was good.  How about afterwards?  I’ve had to force myself to knuckle back down because I’ve been caught in the trap of saying, “That last thing came out so well.  If I don’t put the effort into this, it really doesn’t matter because now I’ve learned and gotten better.  It’ll just come out good naturally.”

What a load of crap.

Thinking that way has produced some of my worst writing.  I go back and look and what I did in those circumstances, and two things come to mind – first, I’m horrified by how bad the writing was; second, I feel a little bit of despair because I know I’ll have to go back and re-write the whole damn thing because I took shortcuts I shouldn’t have.

Approach your writing as if you haven’t succeeded.  I don’t mean to not be proud of what you’ve accomplished, but just put it into perspective – you did great because you were willing to work at it.  If you let it go to your head, you’ll fail, and your ego will bring you crashing back to Earth.

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