by Addison Fox
“To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.”
What struck me about Prefontaine’s words was just how applicable they were to any task you can think of. We’ve all heard since an early age about “giving our all” and “doing our best,” but what does that really mean? Does every endeavor we enter into have to be a masterpiece? And in a business as subjective as writing, we already know going in we won’t please everyone, so why work at it all that hard?
In my opinion, what the quote really illustrates is that we must give our gifts – whatever they may be - the time and attention they deserve. While we all readily admit that writing is a gift – a talent that burns inside of us, pushing us toward a career in publishing – we often shortchange that gift amidst the realities of life. Spouses, jobs, health, small children, aging parents – you name it and everyone’s got something in their life that demands their time and attention and focus.
But what about the things that aren’t so important? The clean house or the stacked up episodes on the DVR? The weeds in the garden and the lure of that great sale at the mall? While I don’t want to suggest the things in the first category should suck up all of our time as human beings, nor do I want to suggest those in the second have no value or are somehow frivolous and unimportant. However, in both cases, all of those things affect how we spend our time.
What about our talents and the dreams we have for ourselves? Aren’t we shortchanging our talent when we don’t give it our best effort? And how often are we guilty of sacrificing writing time to the first category? Or…to the second? One of the most important steps on any author’s journey is understanding what type of writer you are and how you can maximize that talent in your life. For some authors, that means writing each and every day, publishing three, four, even five or more books a year. For others, that means a slower pace, writing a book a year, perhaps even less.
Is either right?
I’m of the opinion the answer to that question is a resounding no. Instead, each writer has to look inside of themselves and decide who they are and how they want to structure their career. We live and work in a time where opinions are a dime a dozen (and this piece is no exception.) But for all the noise on the internet, in social media and at our local writers’ meeting, none of that noise knows what each and every one of us is dealing with when we go home, close the door and stare at that blinking cursor.
Instead, I’m of the opinion that every writer can give themselves three gifts. First, give yourself the gift of time. Take an hour for yourself every day to focus on your writing. Not writing websites. Not writers’ loops. Writing. If an hour is too much, make it fifteen or thirty minutes. Get up early or stay up late. Do it on your lunch hour. You deserve the time.
And finally, give it your best. To the point above, stop worrying about your chapter mate who has won industry awards or the contest final you didn’t make. Ignore the chatter and noise about deals and promo and all of the other things that really and truly don’t matter in those moments when you are crafting your story. Focus instead on writing the best story you can. Work on your craft, hone your skills and revel in the joy of creation.
Every writer has something to contribute with their words. Don’t sacrifice your gifts or let the image of another writer influence what you think your career should look like. Instead, be the writer YOU are called to be. The world is waiting for you.♥
Addison Fox can't remember a time when words weren't a part of her life. An avid reader, she can be found with a book in her hand nearly every time she has a free moment. Her latest release is TEMPTING ACQUISITIONS. Visit Addison at www.addisonfox.com.