In Pursuit of Excellence (Part 2) we explored how we pursue excellence in our writing by preparing the mind.
There are still two steps needed before we can call ourselves excellent writers. We need to:
• Build towards excellence
• Realise excellence
Today we will explore how we can build the foundations of excellent writing.
BUILDING TOWARDS EXCELLENCE
Goals: Set realistic writing goals, which allow you to produce the maximum result with the minimum of effort. Have a clear vision of your goal and focus on that. I have a photo of Margaret Atwood at a book signing. I cut out her face (sorry, Ms Atwood) and in its place I stuck a photo of my face. I look at that photo every night before I go to bed. It reminds me of my ultimate goals: to be both an excellent writer and a published author. Have the courage to hold to that vision of your goal even if others don’t see it.
Commitment: Excellence requires commitment. Whether we make a commitment to ourselves (write x-number of words a day) or to others (Mr Editor, you’ll have the revised manuscript next week), keep that commitment. Because if we don’t meet the commitments we make, how can we build writing excellence?
Expect much of yourself and little of others, thus you will be spared much vexation. (Chinese proverb)
The Challenges: Pay attention to details. Be persistent. Persevere. Never give up. Never. And don’t settle for lesser quality in your writing because you’re exhausted or have to go to work or you’re dispirited because (in the dank, dark cellars of your mind) you’re beginning to think you’ll never be published. Accept nothing less than excellence from yourself. All the time - every time.
Take Action: Strive for your personal best at all times. Cultivate the intention of doing better than you did last time. Strive for impeccable writing and, if later you find you made a mistake, or didn’t do your best, learn to accept that you win some, you lose some. Failure is not to be feared, but rather something to be embraced as just another experience. Move on to the next project. As a writer you always have another chance of achieving excellence, for the next sentence you write may be the best yet.
Any foundation must be sturdy and strong. The foundation of writing excellence is no different. Take the time to ensure your writing foundation is well-built and excellence will become an inherent characteristic of your writing.