The Pole Vaulter’s Approach: Friday, May 29th

The pole jumper relies on momentum. He would be silly to stand in place, directly underneath the bar, and suddenly try to launch himself up and over. Instead, he starts really far away. Because he can’t make the leap if he hasn’t been running. And he can’t run fast if he hasn’t been running for some time. And he can’t start running until he takes those first steps.

The best thing for a writer to do is be prolific. That way you gain momentum. A study of the world’s most successful writers showed this: successful writers are very different from one another, they vary greatly, and have almost nothing in common EXCEPT… they all have produced a large body of work over a long period of time. 

There are no shortcuts or freebies, but the path to success is well paved and well understood. Plenty have gone before and lit the way, which means you and I don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

James Scott Bell says, “The best writing advice I ever got, and I got this early on and I’m glad I did, was to write a certain number of words on a regular basis – a quota of words – because you look up at some point and you’ve got a completed novel. And you learn so much by completing a novel.”

The law of averages says that if you put in some work every day, then progress is not only probable, it’s inevitable.

When I first heard about this mantra, and this approach to writing, it was the first time in my life that I thought, “Aha, I could do that.” Because it’s not about being the best. It’s about work. And working hard is something I know how to do. For the first time in my life, being a writer seemed like an attainable goal instead of a silly dream.

I can see the high bar in the distance, the one I have to jump over at the end of my runway, and it’s scary as hell. But I don’t have to worry about that right now. All I have to worry about is moving forward. Slowly, slowly. Surely, surely.

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