“Mastery is the mysterious process during which what is at first difficult becomes progressively easier and more pleasurable through practice.”
I found these words on the back of an envelope where I’d jotted them down. They may be from the wonderful book, “Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-term Fulfillment” by George Leonard, a favorite writing guide of mine. Or they may be from somewhere else. It’s the message that counts: mastery matters.
Mastery is about long-term dedication to the journey itself rather than quick, easy results. It’s essentially more about who you become and what you learn along the way than it is about reaching a goal. It’s really a form of long-term learning.
Today’s world really conspires against mastery—it’s all about distraction, instant success, and the temporary relief of whatever is ailing us. In contrast, the master’s journey is slow, demanding, exhilarating, and often invisible. We take that journey day after day on our own, often invisibly and without fanfare.
Mastery is something we commit to for ourselves and our craft. It has nothing to do with what other people think or what they’re doing. It offers unexpected heartaches when our progress seems slow or when it stalls. But it also offers unexpected rewards, when something difficult finally yields to our steady commitment and practice.
And here’s something wonderful about mastery: It isn’t the most talented who make it their own—it’s those who persevere, who set an intention and work consistently to turn something challenging into something they can do with ease and pleasure.
If this sounds appealing, then you might want to check out George Leonard’s book, “Mastery.” It’s a short, pithy guide I treasure and often turn to on my own writer’s journey.
How might greater mastery of a challenging skill enrich your writing? Something to ponder and tackle as we all write on.
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