Friday, November 16, 2007

Practice, practice, practice

I was talking to a friend the other night who’s considering revisiting a goal of hers to write – something that I had desperately wanted to do since I was 14 years old. Talking to her about this made me remember the initial frustration of being unable to get anything out of my head and onto paper. Years later I was still struggling to write cohesively, but I had improved. I was an English major in college. I work for a book publisher currently, and I’ve been in the publishing business one way or another for over 10 years now, editing everything from medical journals to travel guides to books. I knew I couldn’t make a living writing, but it was still something I loved to do (shit, I edit myself in my head before I talk!), so I took these jobs as editor to kind of keep up my skills without having to think about it in case one day I found a way to do what I really wanted: write.

Ten years have passed, and in that time I became more concerned with the end product of a job: money. I wanted to buy a house, a new motorcycle, and support myself in the lifestyle that I want to live. Time passed, and I completely forgot about that lofty dream. I found myself strapped for cash about a month ago and e-mailed all my friends and colleagues in the business to find out if they knew of or could hook me up with any simple freelance editing jobs I could do from home several nights a week – make a quick, easy buck. Every avenue I pursued turned up a dead end, except for one where they told me they didn’t have a need for editors, but they did for writers. Would I be interested? That was too much work, I thought. I needed fast money. Then I thought, when did I lose my dream? This is what I wanted, and now I’m thinking it’s too much work? Yet, I’ve continued to write throughout this professional writing drought; I edit e-mails to friends to make sure they read well and are funny, I tell stories, I write this blog.

The Realization

I write now for fun. It gives me joy, and somewhere along the line I lost the anxiety that came along with writing when I was younger. By “practicing” on a daily basis (aka, editing books and re-writing sections for authors), I’ve finally reached a level I never would have expected to be at when I was 14, 18, or 24. It makes me think about the frustration I feel with other endeavors. For instance, I think, “I can’t be a jammer. It’s just not the position for me,” but that’s only because I feel the same frustration when trying to jam that I had when I would sit down to write. Yet something compelled me to keep trying writing, and I found there was no substitute for time and practice.

I always say, and truly believe, that anyone can do anything they want – you just have to want it bad enough and take action to make it yours. Some things just come easier than others for me. Training my mind is easier than training my body, but I suppose body and mind are really all just some of the components of your whole self. After reflecting on the incidental accomplishment of being able to write fairly well now, I think approaching something like jamming in the same manner may eliminate some of the stress I incur in the process. Practice, practice, practice. And, yeah, there’s frustrations when learning anything new or honing any skill, but I don’t think they actually help you get where you want to go any faster. If anything, anger and frustration only detour your from what you want. That’s not to say you shouldn’t have a goal, just that you shouldn’t expect immediate gratification. And, hey, if along the line you get it, then that’s just a bonus.

1 comment:

Megan said...

........but I love instant gratification.

You are so right, girl. I love you but I love your bloggy-style even more!