Writers and other creative types are often notoriously hard on ourselves. Yes, I got published, but they didn’t pay much, you’ll hear. Or, sure I got a show, but it isn’t a solo show. Dissatisfaction is the bane of the creative’s existence.
It could be said that dissatisfaction drives the creative type to keep creating. If we were perfectly content with the world, we wouldn’t have to make anything new, would we?
Yet, this cranky perspective can also keep us from really enjoying the process of producing art. In The Art of Possibility, Benjamin Zander shares this exercise for banishing the ‘not good enough’ demons that haunt us. It's called Earning Your A.
Imagine your best writing year. What do you want for yourself? Feel free to break it into semesters if shorter periods of time work better for you.
Write down what you need to do, and how you have to show up, to earn an A in the classroom of your writing life.
Your A should reflect things you can control.You cannot, for instance, control whether the New Yorker hires you as a columnist. You can control your efforts to get the job. (And please don't consider offing any current columnists to get the job!)
Earning your A should include not only what you are doing, but also who you are being. You might include that your A was earned by being courageous in the face of rejection slips, or helpful to your writing buddies.Your A might include a certain number of queries that you send out the door. Whatever the A is, it should be unique to you and your goals.
Write this all down, date it, and put it away. At the end of your semester (a year, six months), get it out. See how you did.Did you earn an A or does your inner critic still have you by the throat, stifling your expression?
Here’s your chance to be the A student you always wanted to be - on your terms.
Play with it and let me know in a comment what you learned from doing this exercise.
Maybe your A includes finishing writing projects. If you need an extra boost to complete a project, reserve your spot in my upcoming workshop, Finish That Piece! I'm co-teaching this with David Hicks in Denver on February 6th, 2010.
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