On the ride to publication, should you focus on change, flexibility, or results?
According to Jack Dixon, “If you focus on results, you will never change. If you focus on change, you will get results.” ~Jack Dixon
But change is hard, a kind of friction we battle against as we’re learning something new. I think back to the first horse riding lesson I took. I jostled in the seat and, most likely with my hands gripping the reins too tight, I tugged at the bit and caused the horse unnecessary mouth pain. After, my thigh muscles burned and I hobbled around until my next lesson. But each day I kept riding and learning and changing until I excelled, won awards, and began to teach others to ride.
As a newer writer learning how to improve my craft, I’ve taken on-line classes, attended chapter meetings and conventions and writing retreats, and flat-out studied and applied the changes by revising and rewriting and tossing out entire chapters until something felt . . . right. I could feel the road to publication growing less bumpy.
Still I write every day, and I sneak in a few chapters of pleasure reading each night. I watch movies and study structure each week. However, like the riding lessons, I set my goal on growing my craft one lesson, one class, at a time. I don’t focus on the result—a completed novel—but on the journey and lessons learned. Change was anything but easy.
No matter where you are in your writing career, flexibility is paramount. If you’re deep in the edit process as I am, welcome criticism from your critique partner or editor not with disdain but with joy knowing that rewrites, abandoned and/or combined scenes will tighten the plot and pacing; thereby allowing potential readers a more satisfying experience.
But again focus on the journey, the micro-changes experienced during that lesson, and not the result.
To aid in flexibility, as I switched from riding western to english, search for different writing techniques that can benefit your unique writing style. Read blogs, travel, study art, hunt for fresh ideas through new experiences, interview others about some unique aspect of their life, read, read, and read some more. Stretch your muscles, your creativity, until like the rider who becomes one with the mount, reacting and compensating to the subtle shifting and tensing of the horse under saddle, the same is true for the writer who narrates the mind fluently, beautifully, magically.
By allowing growth and change, by staying open and flexible, you’ll awaken to the result with a kind of awe as you realize publication has arrived.
Write with Joy,