Monday, June 04, 2012

Ability vs. Desire

My seven-year-old son is a total hoot. The other day he came up to me and said, "Mom, people are always asking the question, 'How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?' I think the real question is, 'How much does he want to chuck?'"

Like any good mother, of course I immediately put that on my Facebook status, but I've been thinking about it ever since. Out of the mouths of babes, they say. His innocent little question got my brain spinning in a million different directions.

Let's think about this woodchuck for a minute. Let's say that he can chuck two trees' worth of wood in one day. That is his capability. If he works consistently for eight hours, taking a half-hour lunch break, he can chuck two trees.

But how much does he want to chuck?

If he decides that one tree a day is just fine by him, he may only ever chuck one a day. That's what all the other woodchucks (possessed of similar inclinations) are doing. If he decides to be like all the other woodchucks and produce one a day, no one will think any the less of him. A wood-chucking woodchuck is an awesome thing all by itself. He can get away with living below his potential.

But what if he decides he wants more?

If that woodchuck had enough desire, and he was committed and dedicated and focused, and maybe even skipped his lunch break because he was excited to be chucking wood, he might find himself exceeding his wildest dreams and chucking three or four trees a day. He might have believed his ability only extended to two trees, but when his desire was brought into the picture, suddenly his ability didn't matter anymore. His desire took his ability and magnified it and expanded it until it was a non-issue.

When you want something badly enough, the facts don't matter.

Of course I'm going to tie this in to writing. It's very like me to do that.

As authors, when we think about our writing journey, we shouldn't think in terms of what we're "able" to do. We should think in terms of what we "want" to do. If I set a goal to write a book this summer because I want to, it shouldn't matter in the slightest that I've never done it before. I have the desire, and so I can achieve it. If I say, "You know, it's awesome that I'm an author to begin with. It's okay if I don't push myself," my productivity might slacken and my quality might decline because I'm making excuses and resting on my laurels. I'm like the complacent woodchuck who doesn't care that he could be chucking more trees.

And what if I don't want to write a book this summer? That's okay - if I forced myself to do it anyway, it would probably be a stupid book because my heart wouldn't be in it. Only I can determine my desires.

In summary, your level of ability doesn't matter. It's all about your level of your desire. Desire will take you further than any other determining factor. It doesn't matter how fast you type. It doesn't matter how little time you have to write each day. Desire makes things possible. Are you ready to listen to yourself, to your hopes, dreams, and deepest desires, and follow them?


Randy said...

So, what you're really saying is that writers are basically woodchucks. ;)

Tristi Pinkston said...

Yep, pretty much, Randy. :)

Mary Ann said...

That post was written for me. I lack ability and confidence but I have plenty of desire. I'm well aware of what I lack, but I figure it's like Dorie (from Finding Nemo)says, "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming..."
It may take another ten years to get there but my desire will take me. Thanks for the post :o)

Dan Olsen said...

Very inspirational Tristi. Thanks.

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