Monday, November 16, 2009

Work Hard

Okay, so some writing buddies and I sort of have a mantra. Don't roll your eyes. Publishing is a hard biz. Lots of waiting. Lots of competition. Lots of ledge moments. Mantras are needed.

Anyway, step one: work hard.

You've gotta be willing to work hard if you wanna get anywhere in life. At least I think you do. And those two words are definitely true with writing.

When I sat down to write my first novel, I didn't pen a masterpiece. More like a finger painting. You know the kind you do in kindergarten? It was practice. Good practice.

The second was like a second-grade watercolor. Nice, but nothing special.

But the third. Yeah, the third had potential. Was it perfect? Heck, no.

It had potential.

I used to hate that word. Hate. It.

Let's define:
Potential: having or showing the capacity to become or develop into something in the future.

Yeah, my sixth-grade teachers used to say I had potential. If only I would apply myself. So I showed them. I applied myself. Graduated college with a 4.0. Ha! Take that, sixth-grade teachers!

Now I teach typing and let the littler kids play math games. I sure showed them, didn't I? *snarf*

Anyway, I'm way off track. The point is, just because you have the potential to do something, doesn't mean you will.

You have to work hard. Learn more. Get better. Read. Practice. And it all takes work. But you know what? All that hard work? Totally worth it.

What do you think? Have you ever worked really hard for something? Did you get it? How did it feel?

30 comments:

Valerie Geary said...

Working hard as we speak...not done yet... still sweating... check back with me in a few more months. :)

Paul said...

As a teacher I put in lots of hours learning how to connect with my students. It was a last stop school for kids who had exhausted all their other options. What I got was a feeling of peace knowing that I was doing all that I could for these kids. It was totally worth it.

More recently, I've worked very hard on my writing, lots of hours, lots of reading in my genre and craft books. Books one and two were nice. They even had some potential. Book three I revised and revised, found representation, now it's out on submission. Just knowing that I'm doing all I can do, pushing myself, makes it worth it.

Melanie Avila said...

Thanks for the reminder. I needed to hear this as I'm perusing blogs and avoiding editing. HARD. Right.

Lisa and Laura said...

Oh yeah, we've revised until I thought our fingers would bleed. Our running joke is always "This is it. I'm never revising this manuscript again. If they don't like it as is, I'm done." And then inevitably someone wants another freaking revision for whatever reason, and we always manage to do it. Work hard is right.

Solvang Sherrie said...

I ALWAYS work hard.

One of my favorite quotes is from Thomas Jefferson: "I'm a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it."

I couldn't agree more.

L. T. Host said...

I work hard at a lot of things. I haven't reached my goals with many of them, but I put in the effort to better myself, and I find that as I reach small goals, I want to attain bigger goals. Hence me getting myself in trouble by wanting to be published. It all started with, "I want to start a novel." Then, "I want to finish a novel." And I'm sure you're familiar with the rest.

Bethany Wiggins said...

In the end, would anything feel as good as something you earned by working your butt off to get it? I think not. (Although I wish that when I worked my butt off writing, I'd literally work my butt off!)

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Since Sherrie quoted, I will, too: Thomas Edison: "Opportunity is missed by most people because it's dressed in overalls and looks like work."
Working hard here, listening for the knock-knock.

Carolyn V. said...

Hard work will get you there! I do believe that. Something I worked hard on is my degree. I have been overwhelmed more times than I care to admit and have thought about quitting on many occasions. But in five weeks, I will only have four more classes and I will be done. I still can't believe it!

brian_ohio said...

I've worked hard at this writing thing... and still working.

Congrats on your agent! You're a fine example that it DOES pay off.

Sending submission vibes out early!!!

Teri said...

Work, a four letter word to so many, but important nonetheless. Thanks for the reminder, we all can use it! :)

Stephanie Thornton said...

Few people are born the next Shakespeare or Stephen King. For the rest of us, it does indeed take a LOT of hard work.

Thanks for the reminder!

PJ Hoover said...

I've loved when I've worked hard and actually achieved something. I work hard for tons of things, and nothing reaffirms the belief of success like...well...success :)

Kristi said...

I've always been a very hard worker - I worked 3 jobs while going through graduate school for my Ph.D. and got teased when I dropped down to 2 jobs after that. I would say I worked hard for my Ph.D. but I tend to be determined when I set my mind on something - which is why I'm confident in my writing as well. Plus, wonderful success stories like yours make my day!

L.T. Elliot said...

I still hate the word potential but I'm trying to mend my wicked ways.
Something I work hard at is being kind. It doesn't always pan out (I can be a jerk somedays) but I try really, really hard to be a kind, thoughtful person. Sometimes, there aren't any dividends and sometimes it's as simple as someone lighting up when you tell them how nice they look.

Cheree said...

I like the saying "the harder you work, the sweeter the reward". It's so true, especially in the writing biz.

Anna said...

On reality shows they tend to talk about who "wants it the most" but they don't often talk about who's willing to "work the hardest to get it." It's not just about wanting it; it's about putting in the billion hours it might take to get it right!

Kat Harris said...

I've never thought of writing, revising or proofing as work.

Long hours? Perhaps. But, like you said, definitely worth it.

:-)

Have a great Monday, Elana!

Hilabeans said...

Simple, but true. It's not enough to be good at something. I love the message!

hhs

Jemi Fraser said...

Hard work does pay off - just not always the way I expect it to. I like the rewards I get, even if I was originally aiming in another direction :)

Steena Holmes said...

Elana I'm working hard just to lose a pound ... my trainer says the same thing, if you don't work hard you won't see the benefits. Does it feel good? No. But do I love the curves I'm getting .. yep.

I associate my writing with that. It's not easy, especially editing. But the more I edit, the more thought/time/effort into each paragraph, the more I love what is coming out. I know the rewards will be there.

Jessica said...

I worked really hard to win a poker game, but I didn't. LOL!

This is a good post though. Alot of people don't realize that success takes really hard work for almost everyone.

Marybeth Poppins said...

It's still a work in process ;)

christine said...

Living in the middle of hard working...OH YEAH!

ali said...

This is going to take way more brain power than I can you give you at this moment Elana. I might have to fit my answer into my two-minute 'free time' next crit group. :)

But I'm totally with ya. Totally.

Lisa Amowitz said...

Hard work...I love it. I'm learning to let the work for itself. I'm hoping the *reward* will sneak up and catch me by surprise.

Jessica said...

Hey Elana, I gave you an award. :-)

DL Hammons said...

Elana,

I'm used to hard work and I usually get what I go after, that is when I set my mind to it. But here's the thing . . . no matter how hard I work, or amount of effort I poor into it, I'll never be able to dunk a basketball. I'll never be able to carry a tune. And I'll never be able to beat my son at Halo. Hard work can only take you so far. If you possess the core competence, then sweat can take you the rest of the way.

A lot of us are writers, but only a few are publishable. Congrats on your success!

Stina Lindenblatt said...

My guidance counselor told me I would never succeed in university so I shouldn't even consider going. So I got a Masters of Science degree just to prove him wrong. :D Maybe that's why I keep challenging myself to do better with my writing. Success will elude me if I don't.

Mary Lindsey said...

As always, you nailed it. :)

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