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“The demand for certainty is a sign of weakness.” Mark Rutherford
“The longing for certainty…is in every human being. But certainty is generally illusion.” Oliver Wendell Holmes
“If we insist on being as sure as is conceivable…we must be content to creep along the ground and can never soar.” John Henry Cardinal Newman
Certainty – being absolutely sure of things beyond a shadow of a doubt – we crave this in so many ways in our everyday lives, don’t we? We long to be sure that we are loved. We long to be sure that we are right. We long to be sure that we are successful. We long to be sure of the outcome of any enterprise we launch ourselves into.
And in our writing life, we suffer from the same malady – isn’t that the truth? We long to be sure that what we’re working on will turn out well. We long to be sure that we’ll find recognition in the publishing world in some form or another. We long to be sure that the revisions we’re putting energy into will turn out to make our work better, not worse.
A sure thing – how seductive it is!
And yet. Chasing certainty can be so tiring! And like the half life of an atom, it seems to recede further and further into the distance, eluding and frustrating us. Is there a better, more fruitful way to work?
We can’t be sure of certainty. We can’t control the outcome of our projects, whatever they are. But we have full power over our effort and our attitude. As my dear friend and mentor Dr. Rob Gilbert* says so well, “Don’t focus on winning. Focus on giving a full effort. Don’t hold back. Go all out.” What fabulous advice!
When we focus on effort, we’re focusing on giving our work the time and attention it needs to grow and ripen. When we don’t hold back, we’re pouring all the creativity and joy we have to give onto the page. When we go all out, we’re spending ourselves fully and energizing our work.
So let’s forget about certainty today. Let’s forget about outcomes and winning the game. Instead, let’s have a winning attitude and focus on giving a full effort as we all write on!
*Be sure to check out Dr. Gilbert’s wonderful Success Hotline: 973.743.4690.