Psyched for Romance

Sports Romance & Romantic Suspense With a Psychological Twist

Monday, May 9, 2011

Good Enough

Happy Monday! I'm in Ft. Myers, Florida for a long weekend with my swimming buddy Eric, having a wonderful vacation. Yesterday we went to spinning class, attended church then a mother's day brunch with his parents, walked on the beach and swam in the ocean, golfed a few holes, then went out to dinner. A lovely day!

The pastor's sermon at church spoke to me. He discussed taking our God-given talents to do our best -- to do "good enough" for God. The sermon encouraged us to work harder, honoring our higher power by demonstrating excellent work with the skills and talents provided to us, whether it's Yo Yo Ma on the cello or a housekeeper cleaning the floor to a brilliant shine.

The sermon made me think about psychology and writing. I had a slightly different take: how can we be good enough without being perfectionists? I'm a hard worker by nature (though you might not know that since I'm on vacation right now!) and I can be rather hard on myself. My psychotherapy clients also tend to be perfectionists, excessively cruel and harsh in their self-talk. Such perfectionism and self-criticism can prevent us from serving God with our talents. I believe doing our best often involves being gentler and more compassionate with ourselves.

As writers, we sometimes become paralyzed by internal pressure and perfectionism. Staring at that blank page with tension radiating through us, wanting desperately to impress our readers, demanding the flow of perfect words on that first doesn't work!

Doing my best as a writer means letting the words come one after another without second-guessing and excessive editing on the first draft. Doing my best means finding my voice as a writer, not trying to emulate the voice of another author who has different God-given talents. Doing my best means appreciating my unique skills and being grateful for the opportunity to create.

May we all strive to be good enough today!

It's Monday, time for the Meet an Author Monday Blog Hop. Head over to Lisa Sanchez's blog for instructions and please join us.


Gabriella Hewitt said...

I agree. I agonize over every word and find myself stuck. Then I give myself a talking to and remind myself that I can always go back and layer in or erase it if it truly is awful but it is better to have something than nothing.

Jennifer Lane said...

Hee hee. I have to give myself a talking to as well, Gabriella!

Lisa said...

Great post, Jenn! I've found that now that I have a couple of books out, writing has become exponentially harder. I agonize over every word and suffer from acute performance anxiety. I have to constantly remind myself to just "get the words on the page" and that the "magic" will happen during editing. I tend to want to go back and edit while I write, and it's hard pressing forward, and not allowing myself to do that.

Hope you're enjoying your time off!!

Nicki Elson said...

I love this post! How perfect for starting out a fresh week too. I think of it as pushing forth and trusting God to give me what I need. Nice to be back on the hop. :)

Lisa Gail Green said...

Beautifully said! Being the best writer you can be means knowing it isn't perfect and that's okay. Doing the revisions. Etc. :D Enjoy your vacation!!

Jennifer Lane said...

Lisa, publishing has been a mixed bag for me. I started writing without much formal instruction so some days I actually find it easier to write after getting published since I'm learning so much everyday about the craft. The hardest thing is finding time to write, juggling social networking and my job (and my time off has been awesome!) But other days I definitely feel the pressure and struggle to get words on the page.

Nicki, I like what you said about trusting God to give you what you need. :)

Jennifer Lane said...

Thank, you, Lisa Gail! What is perfect anyway? Even my most idolized writers make decisions that I disagree with in their writing, and that's quite okay.

Liz Fichera said...

Beautiful post, and not just because of the pretty pic. This is great advice and something to remember every day. Have a wonderful vacay!

Darcia Helle said...

Great post, Jen. You're so right about not trying to emulate the voice of another author. Sometimes I'll read a book and wish I could write like that. But that's not my voice. We all need to focus on our own unique talents, rather than trying to measure up to some other standard.

Enjoy your vacation!

Jennifer Lane said...

Thanks, Liz! I'm working on being "good enough" at work today (boo-hoo, I'm back from vacay).

Darcia, I think the same thing after an amazing book--why can't I write that way? Then I have to remind myself that it's okay to write MY way!

Michelle Teacress said...

I've got a good friend who said, "I'm a perfectionist in remission." Made me laugh, and laugh.
Have a lovely week!

Jennifer Lane said...

Michelle, I'm a perfectionist in recovery! :D

Janine said...

I've hear that sermon before! ;D

Gorgeous pool and weather! Sounds (and looks) like you had a fantastic long weekend. :)

I think there is a big difference between striving for excellence in everything you do (be it ‘big’ or ‘small’) …and being overly critical of yourself.

We tend to be hard on ourselves (to motivate ourselves to do better?) but are far kinder / patient / less judgmental of other people in the same situation – especially those we love. We’re supposed to love ourselves, so surely we should be treating ourselves the same way? We should remember, when we have harsh or negative self talk, that God created each of us in His own image -- so we're insulting / degrading His creation!

As a reader, I know that a HUGE part of a book is the storyline and characters created. It makes sense that a writer would spill out all his/her creativity on the page, get the plot moving and have the characters constructed in his/her head – and then go back later to the words/sentences and edit the writing to re-construct it / make it flow more smoothly.

I hope you writers can let loose and enjoy the first (creative, storytelling) part, and then go back with your toothpicks, letting you’re A-type personalities take over for a while! ;) The most important thing, of course, is to stick to YOUR voice and not try to give people what you think they want to read. The best way to ensure that you please nobody is if you try to please EVERYBODY! :P

Thanks for the insightful, thought-provoking post, Jen! And happy happy Saturday! :)


Jennifer Lane said...

Thank you for your thoughtful comments as always, Janine. :) I like the idea of letting loose and just typing the words on the page! And then letting my Type A OCD self take over for the editing process. All I can try to please is myself when writing.

It is curious that we're so much harder on ourselves than on others. I wonder why that is?

Cilou6 said...

You're a wonderful writer Jen! Gifted I'd say!
Whatever your method would be, it works perfectly for me!
I enjoy so much your stories/characters, it seems so easy, so obvious, ...
I'm sure it's like a ballerina, you suffer like hell in your ballet shoes, but once on stage you spread magic on the audience!

I thank you very much for your talent, and for sharing it with me, whose writing talent is hidden by the typos :)

As for your latter question : why are we harder on ourselves than on others, we have a saying in French : qui aime bien chatie bien (the one who loves well, chastisise well) I guess it's because we love ourselves a lot after all :)

[official translation for the saying : Spare the rod and spoil the child]


Jennifer Lane said...

Yeah, those ballet shoes are killin' me sometimes! Hee hee. Thank you so much for reading my work and for all the encouragement.

Interesting French phrase. So true that we can be very critical of our loved ones, so maybe our extreme demands on ourselves do mean that we love ourselves! ;P


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