When I sat down and I thought about what would be of most value to all the ROWers out there I had to rack my head pretty hard. There were so many things I could think of that would be good to share with you, and then I realized that the lesson of most value to you would be the one has sustained me throughout most of the past twelve years: It’s all about Heart.
I learned about Heart during basic training on my first run. I was pretty slow and I couldn’t keep up with everyone and I stopped running. So I turned around and walked back to where we started, where one of my instructors, Drill Sergeant Beller, was rounding all of us weaklings up and disciplining us with more exercise. Beller said to all of us that we didn’t have Heart. He told us if we had Heart we would have been able to push through the pain and keep running.
It was when he said that to me that I determined that I would do everything to develop and have heart. I worked hard during the rest of basic training. At any point during a run my legs felt like stopping, I might slow down, but I learned to never stop running. Later I volunteered to be one of the road guards for our company. It meant I might end up running at least another half mile in comparison to everyone else around me. And by the end of training (with the help of a pair of guardian angels) I managed to pass my Physical Fitness Test so I could graduate basic training. It was really hard, but I learned as I went through the experience what it meant to have Heart.
Now all of us are going through this round together and I think it is crucial you understand this: Writing, in the end, is all about Heart. Do you know everything that you need to put into your story at the beginning? Is your outline perfect? Are you making perfect progress with all of your goals? Are you angry because you think you should be accomplishing more? Have you broken the 10,000 words in a day barrier? If the answer to any of those is no, then you need Heart. And for those of you who have mastered all of these things, you need Heart just as much as those beginning the journey.
After basic training I eventually left for AIT, while there I had new challenges to overcome, but because I had Heart things went a lot better for me than in basic training. I helped no less than ten people to pass their Physical Training Tests when I wasn’t passing mine. I shouted louder than everyone else during our running cadences earning me the title of: The King of Motivation. And after I passed my Physical Fitness test again I found myself in the best shape of my life. Heart took me beyond my own abilities and into a world of possibilities.
It is the same for us as writers. Each one of us has our own abilities and we are striving for our best. But there are days that it calls for more from us, days that stretch our patience, days that there is nothing left. And those are the days that we have to sit down emotionally exhausted and put something down on the page and believe in our self and our dream. Those are the days that Heart is crucial. As long as it is beating for the written word, nothing can stop us.
Of course you might say to me, but I didn’t make my goals this week, or I forgot something really important I was supposed to do, or I’m just not strong enough to do it right now. That’s okay. We are in this together. Heart isn’t developed all at once. It is developed over time. It might only take you nine weeks to develop the kind of heart to run four miles. But we are writing stories folks. That is the kind of heart that can take lifetimes to develop and perfect. You’ll never see your writing as perfect, but you can see it as better. With each writing principle you learn more about your craft and how you can better approach your limited time in which you have to write.
Right now I’m learning about Heart once again. And as I said, this kind of heart is different from what I needed to run. I have to be willing to put myself out there for people to read my imperfect work. I have to be willing to write during a lot of my free time. I have to be committed to telling my friends who want to do fun things with me that I can’t hang out, because I’m writing. I have to do the work to go to conferences, learn new skills, and study literature so that I can understand more about writing. My education process never ends. And it never will, because it is all about a Writers Heart.
So as you are going through this round keep in mind, you are on a great journey. You won’t always be able to keep up with everyone and that’s okay. You are working on it. You’re making progress and you are making hard decisions. You are developing your Heart. And that’s a beautiful thing. Don’t give up, don’t give in. You can do this. Why you ask?
Because you my friend have Heart. Now use that and go write something amazing today!