My oldest daughter just went with Honors Choir to the big city too see an area alumni (and Honors Choir alumni) sing the lead tenor in an opera.
And seeing her smiling face next to his crystallized some vague thinking in my brain that’s been mulling around for a while. It’s nothing new. Other people have said it. But just ’cause other people said it doesn’t mean I believed or understood it in my own frame of reference and life.
I’m talking about willingness.
To summarize: find the thing you’re willing to do, even when its repetetive or boring sometimes, even when it costs more money at first than you’re bringing in, and even when other people are really good at it, and do it. Willingness + Ambition = success.
What do I mean by willing to do? I mean, taking music classes even when you’re busy trying to pull all A’s in high school. Even when the actual practicing part seems boring and repetitive. If you’re truly willing to do it (and not just wanting to be good at it) than you’ll put that boring time in. You may not like it, but you’ll DO it, because you’re willing.
For writers, that means actual writing. Not blog posts, not going to conferences, not sitting at coffee shops and mostly doing Facebook or looking at newsletter subscriber stats or putting together just that perfect cover reveal banner…it means writing story. (and why yes, all those examples are from my own writer life).
Two of the most successful writers I know in my own little circle of authors I know in real life (narrows down the field considerably) are two women who write. Alot. And who have been writing a long time.
There are things in my life that give me joy. Baking. Singing. Walking in parks. But whilst I have ambition (why yes, I would love to be a food blogger or paid singer) I don’t have the Willingness to do them. I’m not willing to put time and effort into testing recipes. I’m not willing to do the practicing for singing, etc.
But I am willing to learn how to do Facebooks Ads, and read laws about newsletter subscribers, and spend hours on the internet researching when cats came to medieval Japan. I am willing to write. And because those are the things I am willing to do, it is writing that I put my efforts into.
Take whatever it is you’re willing to actually do (no lying to yourself) and then do it. The difference between me and those successful women authors? Not much, I think. Mostly its that they actually write more.
Difference between opera singers and Honors Choir singers? Willingness to focus on the singing in a way that closes certain doors to other interests…and practice.
Now if only I could somehow force my younger daughter to understand that people who are good at saxophone are actually people who spend time playing saxophone (as opposed to talking or thinking about it).
Someone needs to invent a pill that links dopamine or whatever brain pleasure chemical there is with the act of practicing. Pick up your pen or saxophone, pop a pill, and rewire your brain for Willingness.