Wednesday, June 12, 2019

The Power of the Right Word by Laurel Blount

Sometimes changing one word makes a big difference.

Writers understand the power of words, and we try to choose them carefully. Maybe sometimes—even a little too carefully. Am I right? Anybody else struggle with a smidgen of perfectionism when it comes to your writing?

Yeah, I didn’t think I was the only one!

It’s tough to be creative while your inner critic perches in the back of your mind, keeping up a running monologue about everything that’s wrong with your writing. But what can you do about it? Selling my first book sure didn’t turn out to be the magic bullet I’d hoped it would be. If anything, my critic got louder—and harsher. She was draining the joy out of my writing process. Not good.

Then a friend suggested a one-word change—and it made all the difference. 

I was wrapping up line edits for my fourth book while simultaneously preparing to celebrate the release of my third. I’d never had two books overlap so much before, and I worried that I wasn’t giving enough attention and time to either of them. I’d also started a monthly author newsletter, and I was trying to finish our homeschooling year while embarking on a (yet another—don’t get me started!) new diet.

I had a lot going on, and my inner critic was freaking out.

“I just don’t feel like I’m doing the best job with any of these things,” I fretted to my friend during our morning phone call.

She thought a minute. “But should you even be trying for the best, though? Or should you be trying for your best? Because those are two different things.”

Wow. I’d been folding towels as we chatted, and I had a mini-epiphany right there in the middle of my clean laundry.

Not the best. My best.

I’d been focused on the wrong target. What I’d been shooting for was “the best.” I wanted every word, lesson and meal absolutely perfect and everybody involved over-the-moon delighted. My concern that I wasn’t measuring up to that standard was right on target. I wasn’t. 

My best? That was a different story. I knew I was bringing everything I had to the table. Maybe it wasn’t the ultimate best. But it was, at least at this busy season in my life, the very best I was capable of doing.

Such a simple change—one little word—but I felt an immediate sense of relief. All I needed to do was my best. That was attainable. That was realistic. That might even be fun!

So, were you nodding when I talked about perfectionism? Do you also have an inner critic waving a list of impossible standards under your nose? Try changing just one word. Don’t try to be the best, just your best at this time and in this season of your life.

I know. It seems almost absurdly simple.

Almost. Because we’re writers, after all. We understand the power of choosing the right word.

Because we’re writers, after all. We understand the power of choosing the right word. #SeriouslyWrite #amwriting

~~~~~~ 


Laurel Blount lives on a small farm in middle Georgia with her husband, their four children,
and an assortment of very spoiled animals. She divides her time between farm chores, homeschooling, and writing. She's busy, but at least she's never bored!

Laurel writes inspirational contemporary romance, and Hometown Hope is her third title for Harlequin’s Love Inspired. A fourth book is scheduled for publication in January 2020. She’s received a Georgia Romance Writers Maggie Award for Excellence and has also finaled in the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Carol Awards. She’s represented by Jessica Alvarez of Bookends Literary Agency.

Whenever she's not working, you can find Laurel with a cup of tea at her elbow, a cat in her lap, and a good book in her hand. Stay in touch by signing up for Laurel’s monthly newsletter at www.laurelblountbooks.com.

8 comments:

  1. Really great point, Laurel! This is a struggle for me, too. I've heard it put this way, too: strive for excellence, not perfection.

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  2. Absolutely, Emily! Excellence is an inspiring goal--but perfectionism is a paralyzing one! (I sometimes have to remind myself of that!)

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  3. I like that, Laurel. We're too quick to compare ourselves to others and WHAT they're doing. Thanks for the reminder.

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    1. Yes, Betty, so true. That quote from Roosevelt "Comparison is the thief of joy" is right on point--whether you're comparing yourself to some perfect ideal or to others! I've let it steal my joy way too many times.

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  4. A thought I'll definitely try to remember. Thanks, my friend...

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  5. Oh, I LOVE this post, Laurel - - thank you!!
    Such an important and valuable reminder for us all. Yes, I'll admit I'm often hearing that nagging voice of my inner critic, whether it's about my writing, tackling my long To-Do list, or even my ongoing, never-ending decluttering projects (ugh). So your post is a BIG help for me, and I'm sure I'll be re-reading!
    Sooo excited about your upcoming Love Inspired book, and such a sweet cover!
    Hugs, Patti Jo

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    1. Thank you, Patti Jo! We definitely need to band together when it comes to those nagging inner critics--strength in numbers! Sending you warm hugs back, sweet friend!

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  6. Oh, Jennifer--you are so welcome! We all need to remind each other!

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