Helping Creative People Create

The Kick In the Pants

by glen

I recently submitted a guest post on a friend’s site, and he told me something I hadn’t heard in a long time: The article wasn’t good enough. It was quite a shock.

I started out (professionally) as a writer, while dabbling in web development. LifeDev grew exponentially in terms of readership and subscribers, and I found myself on places like the Digg, Delicious and Reddit homepages (back when the first two meant something), as well as other reputable news organizations. I had arrived as a writer—well, a blogger, at least—and it was a great feeling.

But as I grew my talents in design and development, my time spent writing took a nose dive. So much in the past year, in fact, that resurrecting this blog has become a top priority for 2013 (more info here).

When I started this blog, I was reading anything I could get my hands on about the writing process. As the years have gone on and I’d lost interest in the current format of the blog, my writing stagnated. I no longer needed to worry about honing my craft, but rather just pushing something out. (I’ll spare you the analogy I’m thinking of.)

It’s easy to forget how doing something on a regular basis (ie. practice) is vital to keeping your skills sharp. This is a classic case. I’d fallen to the trap of thinking writing was like riding a bike, you can always hop back on. The truth was I’d gotten rusty.

It would have been very easy for my friend to beat around the bush, fix the article himself, or make a myriad of excuses as to why he (rightly) wasn’t going to publish the article. But he gave it to me straight: The article wouldn’t cut the mustard for his site.

This was all the motivation I needed. Time to shake the rust off, to get back to the grind.

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{ 44 comments… read them below or add one }

Ubi January 22, 2013 at 11:10 am

“riding a back” ??!!

I think there’s still some rust.

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Peter Ewin Hall February 2, 2013 at 4:57 pm

You’re lucky to have an honest friend. Whatever our craft we should always be looking to improve rather than sit back. That’s not always easy but some of the best creative people are always pushing themselves on. For example, I’ve just seen the “Lincoln” film – sensational – Spielberg clearly isn’t sitting back.

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Dean Cassidy February 14, 2013 at 12:45 am

I couldn’t agree more! However, I would be very much interested in what exactly did you get your hands on to read about the writing process? Might turn out as a nice short post for a lazy day, I think.

Also, there’s no link on “more info here” :)

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Andrew K. February 22, 2013 at 11:27 pm

Your blog has a self honesty that is is enlightening. The lessons about practice and honing ones core craft hit hard.

I’m also experiencing some trouble with this on my various projects. Being solely responsible for every part of the project eventually turns into me trying to learn a bunch of skills that I’m not that good at. Then I get discouraged and projects stagnate.

All the while my core craft gets no practice and rusts.

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Deeak November 7, 2016 at 1:09 am
sespring April 8, 2013 at 10:53 am

I think that there are times when we all need a kick in the pants. It is fortunate that some of us have friends that care enough to do it for us!

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Govtjobcareer February 18, 2015 at 8:49 am
saira bagh April 13, 2013 at 7:43 pm

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rob May 22, 2013 at 5:38 am

Very true… Sometimes we don`t open our eyes or mind for that matter until we get that kick in the pants or kick in the teeth like walt disney stated “You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.” and I read (http://www.feelingsuccess.com/walt-disney) that he was apparantley even fired by a newspaper editor for “lack of creativity. This seemed to serve as a huge

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Deeak November 7, 2016 at 1:08 am
@impressivemag July 2, 2013 at 6:28 am

You forgot to add the link in the “more info here” at the end of the 3’rd paragraph.

Nice article

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Sahil February 18, 2015 at 1:21 am

True. nice observation. I also liked the end.

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Govtjobcareer February 18, 2015 at 8:45 am
sespring July 9, 2013 at 6:05 am

Great article. I have struggled with the same issues and need to “shake off the rust and get back to the grind” myself. Thanks for the kick in the pants!

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Nick Hammond September 19, 2013 at 9:09 am

Great to hear that you have friends that aren’t scared to tell you the truth. Been trying to get my blog where it needs to be as far as content and it would be awesome to have some critiques such as the one you received – http://t.co/GLauKZzBNq

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steve werner October 6, 2013 at 3:06 pm

Kudos to your friend.
The truth hurts some time, but boy does it get me motivated.

Nice post.

SW

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Green Solution Collective October 8, 2013 at 8:17 pm

You’re very fortunate to have a friend like that. Bringing it to you straight. And I’m glad that you took it positively! more power!

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AvgJoeMoney October 24, 2013 at 7:06 am

I think the same about conferences. they’re a great wake-up call. Before a conference I want nothing to do with it (even wonder “why the hell did I sign up to go to that?”) But once I’m there….it’s amazing. I never fail to learn far more than I invested.

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John Vespasian November 4, 2013 at 3:59 pm

Even more important than keeping your skills sharp is to keep focused on the essential. In practice, this often means letting of goals that are too expensive too achieve, or abandoning skills that are no longer worth the effort. Practising for the sake of practising makes little sense. As we grow and refine our goals, it is important to let some skills die a natural death. I enjoyed your post, although I would have also mentioned the dark side of constant practice.
http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com

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Wan Muhammad Zulfikri Bin Wan January 27, 2014 at 8:38 am

I guess that you’ll need to polish back your writing skills. I think it will be easier for you to get that shine back.

Good luck :D

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asmara klana March 1, 2014 at 10:42 am

I am a teacher and i thing i love writing, and have to share my student how to write:

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Anna Marie March 28, 2014 at 10:32 am

Cut that mustard! :)
You are right about practice and consistency. It reminds me of the awesome book The Slight Edge. Doing simple things on a daily basis can really make or break your success. It’s something I love to help my clients with, and it’s amazing the success they can accomplish.
Anna Marie, Life Coach at http://www.awakeninglifeholistichealing.com

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Michael Gowans April 28, 2014 at 8:45 am

Having the crazy, I KNOW I WILL WIN persistence is everything. You gotta be strong enough, long enough. Great Post Glen! I also found a great way to be more magnetic and likeable http://youtu.be/oFa4plc_9fs

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Ravinder Kadian December 2, 2014 at 3:00 am
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wow, I guess that you’ll need to proof read your writing skills. I think it will be easier for you to get that shine back. keep rocking.

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I aspire to inspire, if you would check out my blog I would really love your input!

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Thanks for sharing!!
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Valerie K July 5, 2015 at 3:17 pm

It’s hard to remember to add skills without letting them replace those we’ve worked so hard to develop. I’m just at the beginning ob my writing journey, but I’ll remember this post during my writing and design classes.

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Irene Fenswick April 7, 2016 at 4:01 pm

We often need a kick in the pants to grow as a personality or professional. True friends are honest with each other. Great post!

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