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Friday, September 27, 2013

Questing for Nuggets

Writing books is a bit like searching for the Holy Grail.

Time to go Quest. Nice hat.
You start off on your quest, not knowing where to go or what to do. You fumble, get lost, run into monsters, not to mention unholy amounts of distractions, until one day, you find yourself tiptoeing past the bones of other questors, holding your breath as the vultures circle overhead…and on the far side of the valley of bones, you finally! put your hands on the magic cup. 

(cue harp. chorus sings.) Ahhhhh! There it is!

Right at that moment, a blinding vision appears. The Vision says: “Great! I'll take that! Now do it again,” and vanishes with your prize.


Times like this, it helps if a questor has a few solid nuggets of advice on hand. I generally hoard nuggets in my saddlebags to nibble, or throw at vultures, as necessary. 

Today, in the interest of keeping us all out of the bone yard, I’m sharing.

One valuable nugget I came upon recently is “TheLittle Book of Talent” by Daniel Coyle. The book lists “52 Tips for Improving Your Skills.” Skills can be physical or mental. These tips apply to all kinds of talent. Coyle has broken the book into 3 sections: Getting Started, Improving Skills and Sustaining Progress. Here are a few of my favorites:

Tip #5 Be Willing To Be Stupid
“When it comes to developing talent, remember, mistakes aren't really mistakes—they are the guideposts to getting better.”

I love this tip! Mostly because it took me sooooo long to learn it. A knight wandering the forest runs into trouble—but somehow that test, prepares the knight for what comes next, right? Don't spend 100 years in the forest, like I did. Embrace your Stupid-ness!

Tip #30 Take a Nap.
Napping is common in talent hotbeds….(it’s) good for the learning brain.

See! Total validation for that weird habit I have of nodding off at 3 pm. Also, Knights are always falling asleep under trees and having adventures upon waking. I’m really seeking adventure when I nap.

Tip #52 Think like a gardener. Work like a carpenter.”
Talent grows slowly. You wouldn't criticize a seedling because it’s not yet a tall an oak tree…Think patiently, without judgment. Work patiently, strategically.

Knights setting off on a quest always seem to have this mindset, don’t they? "I swear, on my honor, it will get done!" That's the attitude. 

So later today, when I climb back on my rusty--I mean trusty--steed and journey into the forest, I'll ….

hmmm. Saddlebags feeling a bit light. Uh oh. Is that a vulture circling overhead?

Anyone else got a nugget to share?


Anne Marie Becker said...

I love this post, J. And I think you probably picked out the best nuggets - will have to check out the rest sometime. It's Friday - have fun storming the castle, everyone! :) (Personally, I plan to nap intrepidly.)

J Wachowski said...

Hey Anne Marie!
Naptime is a good time to be intrepid. :)
Tally ho!

Marcelle Dubé said...

The right to be stupid and naps? I am SO there.

Elise Warner said...

Fun post with nuggets from your mother lode. Loved it. Nap time and
a nugget. What could be better?

Pender Mackie said...

I was just thinking it was time for a power nap, but your post perked me up. Maybe I'll complete a little more of my current quest, before getting my zzz's on.

Cathy Perkins said...

Love the Knight & Journey analogy!

The gardener tip - patience and growth - struck a chord with me. I pulled out a manuscript I wrote several years ago and Oh my! Rather than beat myself up over how horrible it was, I can enjoy recognizing the journey to here.

Think I might need a nap after that insight. :)

Rita said...

How did I miss this? Great tips. I'll have to check out the book. Thanks

J Wachowski said...

With all this napping, we are certainly a bunch of geniuses. :)

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