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.

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12 thoughts on “Putting Out the Effort

  1. So did the writing come easier the next day. I thought it was an okay thing to just wiite anything, prime the pump, but not when you are writing for real I suppose. Sometimes, when you keep writing and writing, you can throw the first few pages away, and your starting point is way in the middle.

    • It is an OK thing to “just write” when you are stuck–particularly if it is “for real.” But after 1,000 words, I had an idea I wasn’t going anywhere. And I had other deadlines to meet, so I did those first.

  2. Thank you for putting this in your post! Writing something that is worth reading just doesn’t happen at the drop of a hat or by taking another mouthful of coffeee. So many people think that words just come together and put your thoughts, ideas, creative prompts, down on the page, whilst typing away merrily. Not so! You write such heartfelt blogs and formatted your words perfectly in Raw Art Journalling. I know that it was a labour of love and that you put your heart, soul and a heck of a lot of work into making the words come alive. Thank you for your words, in each and every post I find more meaning and try to learn from it.

    • You know, Ruthee, you know how hard it is. And sometimes it can look like I have answers, it’s also fair to say that this blog (on the top line of the page, by the photo) says, “Tips, slips, stumbles and leaps on the creative journey” It’s all of that, and a lot more slips and stumbles. Which is fine, but they need to be honored in their own messy way.

  3. That in itself was an inspiring thing to read,enjoy the feats of the human body,we are an incredible lot when we push ourselves . What did you think of the opening ceremony ….what a hell of a creative brief that must have been!

    • I thought it was a wonderful mix of reality and fun and “ohhhhhh-ahhhhhh” and magic. I loved the doves on bicycles. And I loved most of all seeing those young athletes who are so eager and smiling and happy to be representing their families, their country, their sport.

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