“When you have the attitude and effort, the skill is not far behind.” Unknown
This little gem popped my desk out of the blue. It’s jotted down on a handwritten note of mine. I’m not sure where these words of wisdom came from, but I think they hold promise for us, so let’s unpack them and see what we can use.
There’s something about the flow, the ordering of these three ingredients — attitude, effort, and skill — that strikes me as worth exploring. As writers, we often tend to focus on mechanics and craft — on skill building. But maybe this is putting the cart before the horse. Maybe all our concern with honing our skills is putting the emphasis in the wrong place. Maybe our time and energy are more fruitfully spent cultivating the right kind of attitude and effort. When we do this, the skill we need will just naturally arise — it develops organically: It’s the fruit of our work, not its driver.
So let’s pause for a moment and ponder attitude and effort. In a nutshell, attitude is how we work — the mindset we bring to the page. effort is about what we do — the actions we take to get where we want to go.
What attitude leads to a successful writing session? There’s lots to talk about here, but a few ingredients that spring to mind for me : expectancy, optimism, joy, openness, curiosity, playfulness, and persistence. When we look at Being on the page as a gift and a privilege, then we come to it with enthusiasm and fire. whether we have a good day or a bad day, we are still in the right place at the right time and doing the right thing: We’re writing. And that’s what
counts. Do we have to feel great to have a great writing day? Do we have to feel inspired? No. Sometimes our attitude shifts in the act of writing: We can start out feeling sluggish and end up writing something wonderful. But bringing an attitude of openness and curiosity to the page can help make that happen.
What about effort? This can be tricky: effort is often equated with straining, but to my mind, it’s really about reaching. We are taking action, taking the steps we need to take to move forward. This requires energy and intention, but it doesn’t have to be stressful. Yes, we need to push ourselves out of our comfort zone and find our second wind — often we’re too easy on ourselves — we don’t push ourselves until we reach the level of effort that we’re capable of, But that’s not about stress and strain, that’s about intention and commitment.
So let’s go for a fruitful writing session today. Let’s be skilled laborers in the vineyards of verse and word. Let’s bring our A-Game when it comes to Attitude and Effort — and the skill we need
to do the job will take care of itself. Write on!