Thomas Alva Edison’s mom was told that her son was backward and wouldn’t amount to anything. Luckily, she didn’t believe it and never told Tom, who surely ranks among the world’s most self-actualized people. Explaining his astonishing success, he said, “The most important factors of invention can be summed up in a few words:
1. They must consist of a definite knowledge as to what one wishes to achieve. Our takeaway: For today, let’s pick one specific writing goal, write it down, and keep it in front of us, and scan it throughout the day to be sure we stay on purpose. For me: I’m going to work on a key passage in my novel that I feel isn’t singing and dancing.
2. One must fix one’s mind on that purpose with persistence and begin searching for that which one seeks. Our takeaway: Let’s bring focused energy, curiosity to our goal. Let’s banish doubt and distraction. For me: I need to get fascinated, not frustrated.
3. One must keep on searching, no matter how many times one may meet with disappointment. Our takeaway: Let’s not settle for a sentence or a paragraph or a character description that we feel is second rate. Let’s keep searching for more vivid, arresting words and for phrases that jump off the page. For me: Since I’m not happy with that passage in my novel, I’m going to come up with fresh, new ways to write it.
4. One must refuse to be influenced by the fact that somebody else may have tried the same idea without success. Our takeaway: Let’s forget about what anyone else is doing. Let’s forget about what other people think we should or shouldn’t be doing. Let’s give ourselves the freedom to keep pursuing the best that’s in us. For me: I’m not going to worry about spending too much time on one passage; I’m going to focus on getting it right.
5. One must keep oneself sold on the idea that the solution of the problem exists somewhere and he will find it.” Our takeaway: Somewhere out there, the most wonderful, amazing words are waiting for us, words that will bring our stories alive and enrich our readers. Let’s keep reaching for them, confident that we will find them. For me: I know all 26 letters of the alphabet are available to me and so are just the right words.
Bravo, Tom! OK, let’s act on our plan of action — and write on!