Friday, October 3, 2014

Nobody Has It Easy

Shannon Dittemore is the author of the Angel Eyes trilogy. She has an overactive imagination and a passion for truth. Her lifelong journey to combine the two is responsible for a stint at Portland Bible College, performances with local theater companies, and a focus on youth and young adult ministry. For more about Shan, check out her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

I am a huge 49ers fan. Always have been. When I was a kid, the team practiced just up the road and my dad would take my sisters and me out to watch. I even have a war story (and maybe a scar or two) from the time I got Jerry Rice’s autograph.

(If you're wondering how this relates to writing, be patient with me, okay? We'll get there.)

Over the past few years, there have been many moving pieces and parts to track as the 49ers fight their way back from nearly a decade of struggles. One of the more recent, and more colorful pieces to watch has been head coach, Jim Harbaugh. From his hard hitting handshakes to his vein popping tantrums on the sidelines, he is quite a character. And as a writer, I like characters.

When he came to San Francisco, Harbaugh brought with him a saying from his childhood that has really become the anthem of the team. It goes a little something like this:


The story of how that saying came to be is here, but the real genius of it is found in how Harbaugh’s used it to build a culture around his players. A couple seasons ago, before Colin Kaepernick took over, Alex Smith was the starting quarterback for the 49ers and I happened to catch an interview he did with Bob Costas. Costas asked Alex (and I’m paraphrasing here) how, through all the years, through all the criticism, was he able to maintain belief in himself. This is what Alex said:

I looked around at the league, especially at the quarterback position, and you soon realize that nobody has it easy. No one had the easy way to become a starting quarterback and playing well. Everybody’s gone through things, everybody deals with things. It’s the good ones–the guys who stick around are the guys who focus on what they can control . . . The people that allow the other stuff, the negativity to creep into their head, allow it to affect them, you aren’t going to be around very long. You’ve got to be thick skinned. You can’t let those things change your work ethic, change your approach to the game.

In my writing career, in yours, we will be tempted to compare our journeys to the journeys of others. We'll look at all the advantages we think other writers have and compare them to the disadvantages heaped into our own lives. And it will be very easy to feel sorry for ourselves.

It's a dangerous game to play, friends, and it's one that will not further your career. In fact, for many authors out there, jealousy becomes a stumbling block they can't ever get past.

When the green monster rears its nasty head, you have to adopt a mindset that says, “NOBODY has it better than me. Everyone I am tempted to compare myself to has stuff to fight. They have things they must battle through, mountains to conquer. No one has it easy.”

Your journey belongs to you. Own it. Wake up each day, crawl into your writing cave and shout these words:

WHO'S GOT IT BETTER THAN ME?

And then, like the crazy writer you are, answer yourself. Say,

NOOOOOOBODY!

25 comments:

  1. This was the post I needed for this week! Thanks so much, Ms. Dittemore. :)

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    1. This is the perfect thing to kick the weekend off( the weekend for me is a couple of days of chores, family, and WRITING)!!

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    2. So, fellow hard-working writers, I have a question for you. I was mulling over Jill Williamson's post from yesterday and decided to redefine my MC's Inner Goal to: "not let her fears control her". She's thrown into a dangerous situation, one with a just cause that she wants to help, but she's afraid that something awful will happen to her. But she has to learn to put others ahead of herself.

      Question: Does this Inner Goal sound like something that could end up with a bunch of monologue about my character feeling sorry for herself? Does anyone have suggestions?

      I'd appreciate it very much. Thank you!

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    3. hm... I think it could go both ways. She could mull over it, and think about it all the time and nothing else. Or, she could fight against her worries and not dwell on it as much. But, if you're anything like me, the character's gonna do what the character's gonna do. LOL! I hope that helped a smidge!

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    4. Yes, it does. I'm going to copy your comment down into my Notes folder. :) And my MC will do what she wants to do, so I guess I don't have much control over what happens. Her goal might even have changed by the end of the first draft.

      Thanks for your help!

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    5. Glad I could help! :)

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    6. HOORAY! It was a good reminder for me as well.

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  2. I love this so much, Shan. Totally what I needed to help me through edits today.

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    1. That's funny cause football is frequently a distraction for me. ;)

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  3. I needed this to. I know of two young writers "Tessa Emily Hall" and "Gillian Bronte Adams" who are published I have purchased their books and enjoyed them. I have some much work that I have very little time to write and when I do have time, I stare at a blank page. I will be happy for them that they are published and quite comparing myself.

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    1. It takes practice, friend. We all have to consciously decide to be happy for others at times. Don't beat yourself up though. Just pat them on the back and get back to work. :)

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  4. This was a great post, and can relate to other thing in life--not just writing. Thank you for sharing it. :)

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    1. Totally true. Jealousy can invade our lives in so many ways. THANK YOU!

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  5. Thank you for this post, Mrs. Dittemore! (Is that what you want me call you, or would you like me to call you something else?) I find myself comparing my writing to others' writing a lot. "You're horrible at writing! You have no talent!" "Your plot is horrible!" "Why can't you make characters like those?" "Your characters are 2-dimensional, your story is too short, and you can't write." "You'll never get published!" "Why don't you just stop?" are just a few of the thoughts that run through my head when I read other authors' writings. But no more!!

    Who's got it better than me?

    Nobody!

    :)

    Thank you again for this post, Mrs. Dittemore. :)

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    1. The same thoughts run through my mind as well. But we can now conquer the voices! :)

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    2. I could not have explained those voices and feelings better myself, Emily! I think you read my mind. Thanks enormously, Mrs. Dittemore, for sharing this invaluable advice!

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    3. That's right! NOBODY'S got it better than you! You can do this. You are a writer!!!

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  6. Thanks so much for this post! I really needed it today, and this can apply to just about everything in life-not just writing.

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  7. That was awesome! I really needed that encouragement today.(-:

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    1. I'm so glad. We all need a pick-me-up now and then.

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  8. I'm a big 49ers fan and this helped me a lot with motivation to keep writing :D

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