|Timmy, Max & Lucy are poster children for competing and comparing at dinnertime.|
Although the offerings and speakers varied, each person, in her own unique way, presented some of the same principles I’ve been hearing at gatherings of writers over the past year. Each AWB speaker confirmed the advice of a previous mentor. Which takes me back my Rule of Three: Pay attention to the truth of a repeated message.
Here are some of the things I’ve heard again and again over past twelve months.
Don’t Compare! Don’t Compete! Don’t Compromise!
Wait a minute! If we’re going for the gold or a big scholarship, we’d be foolish not to compare our performance with others seeking the same thing. How can you break a record if you don’t know how you line up with your competition?
It’s a given that no one wants to lose that tennis game or play on a noncompetitive team. But that will happen if we don’t compete. Right?
And anyone who has been in a close relationship knows that compromise is important when family, colleagues or friends disagree. It’s a sign of maturity not to always demand your way. Maybe their way is better.
If Competition, Comparison and Compromise are such important components of our culture and obviously a part of human DNA, why don’t they belong in the world of writing?
Perhaps it’s partly because the creative arts are subjective. They can’t be evaluated by a stopwatch, scoreboard or test key. Even though there are guidelines in writing, we’ve all read things that appeal to us that aren’t the norm. Throw out a topic and take note of how differently individuals approach it.
I’m blessed to be in a critique group that meets once a month to discuss one another’s writing. For the most part, our group focuses on the positive, but we also challenge each other to do our best work. Otherwise, why meet? It has stretched me at times, but my writing is better for it. And we’ve formed friendships because our work is done in a spirit of encouragement, not comparison and competition.
Recognizing our natural tendencies to compete and compare is the first step in creating a healthy support group. If we don’t, the Three Cs will separate and reduce us both individually and collectively. As with much of life, these challenges are intertwined, so the answers to them overlap.
Here are just a few of the things I heard at AWB and other gatherings this year that resounded with me. Most can be applied to other facets of our lives, too.
It’s Okay to Be Who You Are!
To find my voice, I must Be Relentlessly Authentic.
To be Truly Authentic, I must write from my Own Experiences.
The answer to “Who am I to blog?” is:
I am a Person with Stories.
We’re all on Individual Journeys, but they all involve the same Universal Truths.
Don’t look at numbers, just write what’s on your heart.
Your message Won’t Appeal to everyone, but Your Audience Will Find You.
Authenticity is a Powerful Force.
I lost track of the number times we were reminded to look for ways to encourage and promote one another at AWBU. In this dog-eat-dog world, it doesn’t come naturally. But when you realize the other person is pulling for you, it’s easier to do the same.
Don’t be a Blog Snob, Promote Others.
Find blogs that Nourish Your Soul. Read. Comment. Interact.
Just find the middle ground. Don’t blast your readers with a daily dose of angst, complaints or too much information.
Stop doing what the other guy is doing.
Ask yourself: What is my passion?
What do I know to be true
Remember that accepting and owning your own individual strengths, weaknesses and experiences makes you unique.
Don’t discount the power of your voice.
I have to express special appreciation to my friend, Talya Boerner, for prodding me to start a blog, helping me set it up, holding my hand all along the way and for telling me, “You need to join Arkansas Women Bloggers. You need to go to this conference.”
Talya is the perfect role model for this wonderful organization!
If you haven’t read her blog http://gracegritsgarden.com, I hope you will today.
T, You’re the best! I love you!
And thanks to all my friends who take time to read, like, share and comment on my blog. You are Wonderful!