Monday, November 5, 2012

Achieve the Amazing

By Pamela

Yesterday I sat at the kitchen table and helped my girl with her homework. "I'm bad at math," she said as she  rested her forehead on her arms in defeat. Granted, math is not her forte, but I wasn't about to let her go down that dark road.

So, I will tell you the story I told her.

I used to be bad at remembering names. Someone would introduce herself to me and, moments later, I'd realize I had no idea what her name was. Sometimes she would be a person at a party and I might never see her again; other times the person was a business acquaintance, and I would need to contact her later. In both cases, learning her name was equally important. She took the time to tell me her name; I should have remembered it.

But because I knew I was bad at remembering names, I gave myself the excuse to not try very hard at it. Then I met Elizabeth J. She was amazing at remembering names. Really amazing. Not only would she remember a person's name five minutes after she was introduced to her, but days, weeks, months later. That's when I decided I wanted to be more like Elizabeth J.

I made up my mind that I, too, would be awesome at remembering names. And so I worked at it. I tried to relate a new person with someone else I knew with the same name. Or I'd play association games until it stuck. ("Jim is wearing GYM shoes" is one I used the other day.) Do you know what happened? I became really good at remembering names! I might not be as awesome as my friend Elizabeth J (she sets the bar really high), but I am waaaay better than I used to be, all because I changed my way of thinking.

Flickr Creative Commons image by SD Dirk.
So, dear writer, I challenge you to change your way of thinking. If you say to yourself ...

I'm horrible at grammar
I suck at spelling
I'm awful at metaphors
I'm the worst at writing dialog
I can't write a decent query letter
I'll never get an agent

... then you give yourself an excuse to not try very hard. You're living up to your own expectations but you've set the bar waaaay too low. Change your inner mantra. Even if today all you can muster is: I'm pretty decent at grammar, then that's a start. Maybe next month you'll surprise yourself by saying: I'm pretty amazing at grammar. Then the next thing you know you'll be saying: I'm freakin' awesome at grammar! You'll never know unless you try.

Set that bar high!


  1. Perfect timing! (I used to say I sucked at writing query letters. Won't say that anymore.)
    Thanks, Pamela!

  2. You're welcome, Vaughn. BTW, I used to suck at writing query letters, too. Now I'm freakin' awesome at it (or almost that good). Too bad my manuscript isn't done so I can start querying! Good luck with yours. :)

  3. Great concept, Pamela! I think I will apply it to a few things starting ... now.

    1. Thanks, Julie. I promise it really does help! Although it can take a while. This morning, as we were leaving for school, I asked Mia: Do you have your math homework? She groaned and said, I hate math. :)


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