Several months ago, I posted about my son’s archery program. Last year, as a sixth grader, he placed 6th in the elementary division at the Texas State Championship Tournament. His team won. The middle school team–7th and 8th graders–won state and went on to win at Nationals. Another previous post was about the discipline it takes to learn a skill like that.
Today we’re going to the State Tourney again, and now my son is in the middle school division. Last year he scored a 261 at state to place 6th. This year, his qualifying score was a 272–and placed him in the top 25. The competition is far more stiff now. His new personal best–in just one year–jumped from 262 to 283 in practice. His new best tournament score is a 278–which would’ve come close to winning at the elementary level. This year, top 25…maybe.
What this is teaching him is perspective. What was once good enough to place in the top 10, isn’t. He can’t rely on the skill he already had to stay competitive. Instead, he has to work harder, practice more, listen more carefully to his coach, and make those fine tweaks that take him from a good beginner to a good intermediate.
Writing is like that. Early on, there’s joy in plunking down words. Just telling your story is enough. But then, when you set your sights on publication, things change. What might’ve been touted as great by your friends, now becomes something that needs tweaking based on crit partners. The rules change–and you have to know when to follow them closely, and when/if there’s leeway to break them. Having a solid “coach” (beta readers, crit partners and an editor) system is the best way to accomplish that. In interviews people ask me the one piece of advice for writers just starting out on their journey. To me, it’s pretty simple…and kind of hard:
Write. Edit. Then Edit again. After that, have it read by people you trust. Then edit again. With time and pressure, a diamond in the rough will sparkle.
To my kiddo–straight shooting and find your zen today! We’ll be golf-clapping in the stands for you. : )