There are few spectacles in sports that are more thrilling than the 100-meter dash. Silence. Bang. A mad dash and it’s over in less than ten seconds.
But when it comes to the things that are most meaningful in life, they tend to be more like marathons. They’re grinds. They require mental and physical endurance. And much of the race is run while no one is watching.
Marathons and sprints are on my mind this week as I think about writing and good citizenship in a year of unrest.
The only real way to be a good writer and a good citizen is to resist the temptation to only do the easy and fast thing, whether that’s rushing through a novel to completion without any self-reflection because you think it’s a moneymaker or simply posting a black square on your Instagram and thinking you’ve done your part.
It’s standing loudly and bravely for your beliefs in your literary and civic life, but avoiding the performative elements of being a writer and citizen and doing the hard work that might remain out of sight and for which you will receive no recognition.
It’s setting aside your ego and resisting the temptation to seek credit and validation for work that will never truly be done.
It’s trusting that if you focus on meaning, ethics, the longview, listening to feedback, self-reflecting, and trying your damndest, you will never truly get to perfection, but you’ll be closer to where you might hope to be.
Often it’s the silent substance that makes the real difference in the end.
Here are some resources from past posts that I hope will help:
- Caring about quality in a flash in the pan world
- Lean into the things that bring you meaning
- How to keep writing when the s*** hits the fan
- How writing changes the world
- How to regain your concentration
- Five ways to stay motivated while writing a novel
- How to return to writing after a long break
- The solution to every writing problem that has ever existed
Need help with your book? I’m available for manuscript edits, query critiques, and coaching!
For my best advice, check out my guide to writing a novel (now available in audio) and my guide to publishing a book.
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Art: Kansas City, Kansas by Henry Ossawa Tanner