Years ago a friend shared with me a his story of "Taking It to the Next Level. " His passion and story hasstuck with me for many years.
During high school, he desired to be the best baseball player on his team. To be honest, he secretly wanted to be the best baseball player ever! His problem was that his natural gift wasn't nearly as great as others on his team. Taking honest stock of his ability (that in itself isn't always easy), he recognized he had to work twice as hard to achieve the same level of success as the best players on his team.
Undeterred, he made the decision to work not just twice as hard to match them. Instead he determined to work three times as hard to surpass them. Each day he taped his hands and headed to the batting cages to bat until his hands bled. He practiced throwing until he hit precision accuracy. He wasn't content with average or just above average. He wanted to be the best.
His persistence paid off. Ultimately he received an offer from the pros. He had honed his natural gift into a formidable skill that was undeniable. All because he refused to stay at the same level of natural born ability and made the determination to keep going and growing.
The take away from that story? Don't let your natural skill determine your level of achievement. No matter how much you possess, it won't get you to the top of your game. Don't be content to stay where you are at. Keep growing.
As We Launch into 2016
If you haven't set writing goals for this year, I encourage you to pause and do so this week. If you choose to set no goals you essentially ensure that you will hit no goals. Don't be random in your writing or your life. Set goals and then to take the steps necessary to achieve them.
Here are some thoughts to consider:
1. Read one book a month that helps you improve writing technique. (see below for some suggestions)
2. Attend a good writer's conference. (Check out the speaker's. Make sure it is a good one.)
3. Join a writer's group.
4. Submit one of your short stories for critique and then rework it from the suggested tips.
5. Write an outline for that book that has been niggling in your mind for the last two years.
6. Set aside at least 30 minutes each day to write when you are fresh.
7. Encourage someone else in their process.
I'll help with Step #1 with a list of several good books to inspire and help you improve as a writer:
1. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
2. On Writing Well by William Zinsser
3. The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Expression by Angela Ackerman
4. Save the Cat! The Last Book on Sceenwriting You'll Ever Need by Blake Snyder
5. The Book on Writing by Paula LaRocque
6. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
7. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott
If you've read them all or have another suggestion on a read that inspired you as a writer, share it with us in the comment box!
So as we start 2016, be intentional with your writing and your life. Determine your goal and be willing to "bat until your hands bleed" in the area where you are determined to take your natural gift to the next level. There is nothing holding you back as long as you are willing to continue to go and grow.