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“Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.” Ecclesiastes, 9:10
“A man is relieved and gay when he has put his heart into his work, and done his best; but what he has said or done otherwise, shall give him no peace.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
What does it feel like for you when you’ve had a great day? A truly productive writing day, when you look back and feel a sense of accomplishment? When you set out to get something down on paper or to wrestle with a thorny plot problem or a greet new character pops into your head — and you make it happen? It’s a wonderful feeling isn’t it?
Every time we put our hand to our work and do it with our “might” we give ourselves the chance to reap the rewards of a job well done. Every time we put our “heart” into our work and do our “best,” we increase the chances that something wonderful will happen.
And when we give less than our best? There’s a sense of dissatisfaction, isn’t there? We’ve experienced that niggling feeling that there’s something that we missed, something more we could have done. When we don’t leave it all on the page we feel a little like an athlete who didn’t leave it all on the field in a game. We feel unspent.
There’s a small battalion of things that line up to distract and derail us from doing our best: health and family issues, financial pressures, time constraints, our energy level. What tools do we have in our writer’s kit bag to defeat them? To my mind, there are four:
Intention: We can come to the page resolved to give it our all — to do our best.
Grit: We can call on persistence and staying power to fight through tough patches.
Second Winding: We can push past our comfort zone and tap our inner reserves.
Joy: We can bring a zestful, enthusiastic attitude to our work — a sense of fun.
On his wonderful Success Hotline (973.743.4690), Dr. Robert Gilbert talks about the “pillow test.” At the end of the day, when you put your head on your pillow will you say to yourself, “I’m glad I did” or “I wish I had”?
Let’s choose Ralph’s relief and gaiety: Let’s put heart into our work — and write on!