♦Welcome to another edition of the Open Book Blog Hop!♦
What one thing would you give up to
become a better writer?
Welcome back to another edition of the Open Book Blog Hop! The authors included in this ongoing series wish to thank you for your reads. We appreciate, even more so, when you share our writings with your friends. If you’re new to the series, welcome aboard. The authors engage and impress weekly. Prepare to become a regular reader.
Nope. This isn’t an INXS homage.
Whatever I’d give up would have to be important. I imagine that the trade would be equal value. So what would be worth that? You’re in luck, because I can tell you what I did give, and how that played out. So, hang in here with me…
I’d like to say that my sense of dread is of value for trade-in. I’d also like to think that my deep anxiety or depression would be commodities to give in exchange for writing better. However, I know that these things would ebb quite a bit with the only thing that writing better could NOT guarantee: Success.
Do not get me wrong. I am not saying that I have learned all I need to be a great writer. I believe that we can always improve our skill set. I train at my day job frequently, because professional development is a widely held value among professionals (not just in my line of work). Going back to school to obtain a graduate degree was driven by a desire to up my writing game. I had the time. A lot of it. The cincher was that my labor union and employer had tuition benefits of which I could take advantage. The rainbow came about halfway through when my work and publishing history resulted in a fellowship award. I felt amazingly blessed. My hardwork and writing resulted in this reward.
In hindsight, it’s this experience that illuminates what I already did give up to improve my writing: I gave up three years of good sleep and a good chunk of money, along with work filling out tuition assistance applications, having my work reviewed constantly by my peers and betters. Stress was high, so I gave up some health. I gave up the walks I could have had with my dog Sadie who passed away at only 8 years of age, just a couple years post graduation. (What I wouldn’t give to have more walks with my girl).
Did my writing improve? Exponentially. Yes. The benefits of going back to school were plenty: access to discounted books and software, improved writing, critique that is useful, a degree that improved my chances at a better job, a better job with higher pay, lots of books to read that all supported inspiration, new colleagues, new friends, resume worthy accolades, a Master’s Degree, and many exciting times.
One of the best benefits of going back to school was getting to grapple with my fears about being a poor writer, and having people I viewed as superior to critique me. The feedback was uplifting and applicable. To have a professor who graduated from Harvard pine that you graduated and that she really wanted to work with you again, to take the time to actually tell you that—well, I haven’t got the words to express how amazing that makes you feel. My mentors were worth every dime and minute, every stress, every missed walk. In the end, they are people who give of themselves to make you better and more skilled in your field, and in life.
I feel better about myself and the life I am leading since graduation. Being honest, in the days before, I wasn’t sure I could keep going. A lot of self-coaching lifted me out of bed in the morning and walked me to work. The creeping depression receded once my classes were underway. I spent my nights doing something productive instead of playing Farmville™. I felt reconnected to my dreams and chosen field. To this day, I still feel this strongly.
I hope that my response will help readers to think about how they can gain a lot by giving a little. Keep reading, though! The other authors have a lot to say and their input is worth checking out. Click on one of the links below to continue the hop…
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P.J. MacLayne says
At some point you have to give up worrying if other people are better writers than you- because someone always is better- and strive to be the best writer that you can be.
Captain Maiel says
This. You are 100% spot on. This comment needs to be elevated!
Richard Dee says
Very interesting post. Feedback is a great spur to development. As is actually writing. My early work is not a patch on my latest. But I wouldn’t change it, I can look back at it and see how far I’ve come.
Captain Maiel says
I always tell people to hang onto those earlier works. You may want to revamp them later, but they are a great gauge.
Stevie Turner says
I think giving up too much of my time would cause me to become depressed. I would have liked to study for a degree when I was younger, but back then University was generally considered only essential for professionals. However, I could study for one now if I wanted to, but to be honest I’d rather write about what’s in my heart!