And we're in the Playoffs.
No matter where I go, I catch scraps of conversations, almost all exclusively centered around our team and the next game. Because...if we win the next game, we're in the Super Bowl, and the Vince Lombardi trophy is coming home to Lambeau (where it belongs).
If you don't follow football (or care) I'll put this simply: the Super Bowl is what teams play all year for. At the end of a football season, it's the only the game that matters. As a woman, I get it. After all, it's the only game where winning means you get jewelry!
As a writer, I also get it. I've written quite a bit over the years--short stories, poems, partial manuscripts, etcetera. I wrote each work with all my heart and soul wrapped up into it and loved the finished product like a baby. With every stroke of the pen, I gave it my all, the very best I had at the time.
Like a lot of football teams out there right now, someone's personal best is not always good enough. Mine certainly wasn't for a while. That's when I became my own personal coach. Coaches believe in their team when no one else does, but they're also honest with their players. They hold them accountable and force them to reach their potential by using any means at that coach's disposal.
Are you your own personal coach? Are you being honest with yourself? Patting yourself on the back for your strengths is nice, but you have to remember that it's not your strengths that get you published. Instead, it's your weaknesses that get you rejected.
That sounds like a glass half-empty approach, I know. But keep in mind, a touchdown means nothing if you don't win the game. Acknowledging that which holds you back is the first step. Embrace your faults and commit yourself to changing them.
When I'm working on a manuscript, I'm constantly aware of my bad habits. I strive with every sentence to avoid passive phrasing and use strong, active verbs to intensify my action. I have a growing list of verbs and other words I find in books I read to increase my vocabulary. Every few chapters, I reevaluate my characters to make sure they're staying true to who they are. And I tweak my dialogue several times because I want to keep it real.
I'm tough on myself, and only allow myself to "love" my story when it's done, edited, and ready to send out. Before then, my gaze is critical and unconvinced.
I am my own personal coach. Are you?
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