Saturday, July 19, 2014

Breaking through the Board

I am finally home after a week at the Antioch Writer's Workshop in Yellow Springs, Ohio.

The experience was so impactful that I'll likely be writing lots of posts about it as I digest it over the next week or two.

One thing that stood out for me is one of the presenters said something like, "We will never write as well as our favorite authors."

What? I immediately thought I heard that wrong. But I didn't.

If we don't believe that it's possible to write as well as or better than our favorite authors, then why try at all? If we believe we can't be as impactful as these authors (and everyone has a different list in their head of who these authors are), the simple true is we won't try to get to that level.

My children's martial arts instructor has a simple truth that's applicable to writing (and life in general): if you want to break that board, you have to visualize breaking through it. If you stop on the surface, it's just going to hurt your hand.

I encourage everyone to plan to break through the board. Don't set a limit on what you're capable of doing before you even try. It's entirely possible none of us will actually be as great as our personal greats, but if we don't try that is an absolute guarantee we won't even come close.



  1. That's very true. If we don't think we can be that good, guess what - we won't.
    Eager to hear more about the workshop, Tonja.

  2. I agree. Why would anyone try to write something less than spectacular? Perhaps it won't end up that way, but that should always be the goal. Looking forward to hearing about your conference.

  3. It does seem like a gloomy, pessimistic statement. I wonder if it was just mis-stated: We will never *feel* as if we write as well as our favorite authors. Or -- We will never write *the same* as our favorite authors. Or -- We will never *be* our favorite authors.

    I like your message better: Visualize breaking through the board.

    But you also need to stop comparing yourself to your favorite authors. Establish your own goals and don't compare.