Wow! Sometimes a story truly captures people’s imaginations and rises above all the noise out there. That’s exactly what’s happened with The Queen’s Gambit — a Netflix original series that’s generated enormous buzz. Over the past few weeks so many people told me about it that I snagged a copy of the novel it’s based on, written by Walter Tevis. No spoilers here, so feel free to keep going.
What a riveting read! I’ve never played chess, but the heroine of the story, Beth Harmon, is a compelling character and the story is full of angst and drama. Beth has tremendous drive and intensity. My friend and mentor Dr. Rob Gilbert ** calls it the “rage to master.”
“Rage to master” — what a powerful phrase — I can feel sparks flying from it! What can Beth — and her creator Walter Tevis — teach us about writing? Plenty. Here are four qualities Beth has in spades that we can all use with great results as wordsmiths:
Curiosity: As soon as Beth sees a chess board, she’s fascinated. A spark is lit inside her and she is driven to find more about the game. She won’t quit until a man who becomes her mentor gives her lessons.
Focus: Chess captures Beth’s imagination and she begins devoting all her energy and thought to the game. She’s singleminded — even obsessive — as we all need to be to develop our own skills and improve our craft. Her powers of concentration are concentrated on one thing.
Fearlessness: Beth isn’t afraid to fail — and when she does, she just picks herself up, figures out she did wrong, and keeps on going. I just recently read something that’s stayed with me: fear is faith in an antagonist. Love that! Beth doesn’t have faith in her opponents — she doesn’t surrender her power to them. Instead, she has faith in the game and confidence in her preparation and skill.
Patience: Over and over, Beth shows enormous patience. Patience in learning the game she wants to master. Patience in correcting her mistakes when she makes them. Patience in studying her opponents and their strategies. And patience in letting a game unfold.
Curiosity, focus, fearlessness, and patience — let’s take a tip from Tevis and Beth, his compelling creation, and embrace them with gusto. Let’s bring the rage to master to our game. Write on!
** Check out Dr. Gilbert’s podcast: http://www.thesuccesshotline.com — you’ll be glad you did!
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