I was a midfielder on my field hockey team in high school and, like the Cancer that I am, I thrilled at the opportunity to both defend and attack in reaction to the other players. We were quite good, but our team as a whole had one major flaw. We consistently played to the level of our opponent. If they were great, we were terrific. If they were bad, we were terrible.
It’s an interesting phenomenon – and it actually reminds me of my deadline issues: if I have a month for a project, I’ll take a month; if I have a day, I’ll take a day. What sort of mindspeak or attitude is it that makes this happen? I can’t decide if it’s a yearning towards the path of least resistance or just plain old survival instincts.
Right now, I’m working on a project that involves a stack of articles – half original and half rewrites. I started with the rewrites in order to get a flavor for the work and the tone of the company, and then I planned to move on to writing the originals. I’d been hired to do the revisions because they were poorly written, and it took me a bit to find my groove in fixing them. I felt velcroed to the mediocrity I was trying to fix, and I couldn’t peel myself away from it, unable to lift myself and my abilities over it. I was playing to the level of ‘the other team’ as consistently as ever.
So, how did I get up and out:
- Admittedly, I gave myself a virtual ‘snap out of it’ slap.
- Feeling that I now had the flavor for the pieces, I started working on the originals.
- When I was filled with my own writing mojo – independent of the ‘other team’ – I went back to the rewrites.
- In this case, the realization and resulting understanding made a dramatic difference to my brain. Often awareness is key – it brings us to clarity.
This behavior malfunction isn’t always bad, mind you. When you’re playing up to a level where you don’t usually spend your time, it can be an amazing growth experience – for your skills and your confidence.
For me as a writer, the struggle is to be the best me I can be all the time and to stay true. Tune out the other voices and follow mine as high as I can get it to go.
Image credit: Colin Purrington