“You’ve got to get to the stage in life where going for it is more important than winning or losing.” Arthur Ashe
Winning and losing. We hear so much about them all the time. In sports. In business. In life. These two choices are so stark, they can seem overwhelming and we can fall into the trap of thinking that this is all there is — that we are either winners or losers.
In our writing life, when this happens, we can begin to think that we are too far behind to ever catch up — that success is for other people and not for us. Our submissions get rejected and we feel like dejected. We are struggling to complete some project we care about and it’s not going well. We can’t seem to capture the character we have in our head on paper. Any of these situations — all par for the course in the writing game — can make us feel less than our best and like we are not in the winner’s circle.
What to do, what to do?
How about taking Arthur’s sage advice? And instead of worrying about winning or losing, hope about just going for it? Just going all out and giving a full effort without worrying about the outcome? How about taking the third path?
The third path is the quiet path — it’s the one most people don’t see because they are too caught up in winning and losing. But the third path is waiting for us, ready to be discovered at any moment.
When we take the third path, we see that there are really two things that we can control: our attitude and our effort. And if we bring the right attitude and full effort to our work, then the outcome will take care of itself.
Can we bring a great attitude and full effort to our field of play, the page? Yes we can, but will we? That’s the question only we can answer. When we “go for it” and bring full effort to our work, we focus all our energy and creativity on the page and the moment. We don’t look over our shoulders to see what’s happening outside us — to see if anyone approves of what we’re doing, or if it’s trendy enough to be marketable, or even if it’s what we think readers will want to read. We just write what we need to write. We write from the heart, not the head. We let loose and go as far as our imaginations and pluck will take us.
Somewhere out there, the third path is waiting for us — just waiting to be found and embraced. Let’s see if we can find it as we all write on!
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