Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Monday Inspiration: How “The Grit Factor” Can Work For You

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Recently, I read “The Grit Factor” by Bob Carney in Golf Digest. “The Grit Factor” talks about many qualities that are needed for self-improvement, including mental toughness, resilience, and a willingness to work on all parts of your game — not just the easy stuff that you already know you can do, but the toughest things, too.

After I read this, I had one of those “aha!” moments similar to when I read The Inner Game of Tennis years ago. “The Grit Factor” has many of the same precepts, to wit:

  1. The real struggle is inward, with yourself, rather than outward against other players.
  2. Your principal obstacles are self-doubt and anxiety; once you can get a handle on those, or at least are prepared to deal with them, you can concentrate better on what you’re doing.
  3. You must believe that everything you do, no matter how long it takes, leads toward your goals.

Mind, there’s a lot more going on with “The Grit Factor” than that, but those principles seemed to make the most sense in a writing and editing context.

Consider that writers spend a great deal of time lost in thought, working either outwardly or inwardly on our works-in-progress. Because we don’t have a way to measure how well we’re doing at any given time, it can be easy to give in to self-doubt (“Is what I’m doing worth anything?”) or anxiety (“Will releasing my next book make any difference?”). So it seems obvious that managing these things is essential…or at least acknowledging these things exist could be beneficial.

Why?

Well, if you think that you’re the only writer on the face of the Earth who sometimes struggles with anxiety or self-doubt, it’s easy for that self-doubt or anxiety to stay inside you. Internalized, it sabotages your creative process at a deep level, and it can be hard to get away from that.

What I’ve found that works for me is to admit that yes, I’m anxious about certain things. (For example, right now I’m worried about how long it’s taking me to go over my final edit and come up with a revised first chapter for my second book, A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE.) But so long as I’m making any progress, even if it’s very slow and I can’t necessarily always see it, I have to count that as a win.

Providing I can admit that I’m nervous, I’m able to do a great deal more than when I try to shut it off and just refuse to talk about it. And that’s something I learned way back when I first read The Inner Game of Tennis.

Mind, that doesn’t mean “everything is awesome” (hat tip to The Lego Movie) when it comes to writing. There is a need for honest criticism. Without that, you can’t improve. (“The Grit Factor” discusses how just giving people ego-gratification all the time doesn’t help, though the author puts it a completely different way.) But you don’t need to beat yourself up while you’re working your heart out to improve, either.

If you take away one thing from today’s post, please remember this: As I’ve said before, writing a book is a marathon, not a sprint. Be resilient, be persistent, don’t give up, and keep working on your weakest areas.

That’s the best way to win, as a writer or at life.

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Written by Barb Caffrey

March 9, 2015 at 6:43 am

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