The Dog Ate My Homework

I believe I've mentioned on this blog that I'm a bit of a procrastinator. This habit was ingrained quite thoroughly, when I learned at an early age that homework did not, in fact, have to be completed at home. That was what homeroom period was invented for. Or if I really wanted to cut it close to the wire, lunchtime.

Of course when you show up to Spanish class 6th period and your five sentences are something along the lines of Tengo hambre or Me gusta comida deliciosa, it shows. Especially when the kid next to you is translating lines from Tolstoy. (Possible exaggeration here.)

I should have put in more effort. But I didn't. Because I was making honor roll in my sleep. Because none of it really mattered--it was just high school. Except, I found out later, it did matter.

A decade older and wiser, I have become a firm believer that hard work counts just as much as talent. More so, actually. But old habits die hard, and sometimes I still find myself getting frustrated if things don't come easily. If I don't nail things on the first try.

Case in point: last week I had a creative review, which is basically where the team gets together and shares what they came up with during a brainstorm. I'm a copywriter, so for me that means taglines and the concepts behind them. For all of you who don't watch Mad Men and aren't versed in adspeak, let me provide an example of what this means: L'Oreal's "Because I'm Worth It" is a tagline. The concept behind this line is: Hey, we women work hard, dammit. Why not indulge our narcissistic selves every now and again? Because all the hard work is worth it when your hair looks fabulous (obvs).

So I show up (in my defense, this was my first creative review) with a paper of all my jumbled thoughts. Some completed taglines, some half-thoughts, some just random ideas that I thought were interesting. In the end I probably only had 2 solid lines. What does everyone else show up with? A neatly typed page of at least half a dozen taglines.

I was unprepared, and I looked unprofessional. I wrote down a bunch of ideas that I thought were cool without fully thinking them through or considering the audience they were directed at. In short, I stopped at Step 1.

So for Round 2, I buckled down. I picked my 2 strongest ideas and sweated it out over them (literally--I was laying in a lounge chair in 90-degree weather dripping sweat all over my paper). And guess what? I nailed it. Not the first time, but that's not what matters.

I think it's been about 2 years since I started getting serious about pursuing publication. And I've learned a lot. That rewriting is just as crucial as writing. That the first draft is just one tiny step in a long and involved process. That a great idea can only take you so far. And when I'm stressing about things not happening as quickly as I like or worrying that I'm progressing at a snail's pace, I just have to look back to my high school self, or to the first manuscript I completed, to see just how far I've come. And for the time being, that satisfies me.

What about you guys? Any personal goals/milestones you've achieved lately that keep you plugging away at it?

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations on a job well done. I agree with you. Every time I have kind of half-assed something, the results are not satisfying.