Putting Out the Effort

New book: ready, set, go! I sat at the screen for an hour. Nothing. I wrote 1,000 words. None worth keeping. I wrote another 300. Lame. Yep, even writers who have been working at it for a long time are not a faucet that you crank on and the words come pouring out. There are still rough spots. Still scree that you slide on and are afraid you’ll fall.

I’d love to tell you exactly how I got out of it, but I can’t. Because I’m still stuck. Tomorrow is another start. Today, it just didn’t work.

Strength is required to work the rings.

So I watched the Olympics. Watched a swimmer get disqualified, then re-instated. Watched a male gymnast take a run and get it just right. Take another run and mess it up. Watched another one jump up on the high bars and do everything just right, then slip and fall, hard. You could hear his breath being slapped out of him.

Even with years of practice, these swimmers and runners jump in, unsure of what is going to happen. The difference between winning and losing can be 1/100ths of a second. That’s not even noticeable, but it can be the difference between standing on the podium and never being mentioned.

Without knowing what will happen, which side of the 1/100th of a second they will land, the athletes still run, jump, dive. Knowing that years of practice may not make perfect, they still show up and do their best this day.

That’s all they can do is show up and give it their best combination of effort and skill. That’s a lesson I can understand.

–Quinn McDonald is a writer and creativity coach who knows that books are not written, but re-written. But to re-write, she has to do the writing first.