By Ali Cross
The other day I drove through a construction area where they had the road restricted to one lane. While I waited for my turn to drive through, I watched the workmen dig a ditch.
Three men with shovels worked on a long stretch of narrow gully. Two workers pushed in their shovels and lifted them out, moderately full. The third man bent his knees and dug in his shovel, lifting up with his back to reveal a shovel overflowing with dirt. He’d toss it, then bend, dig, lift and toss again. With each one of his thrusts, the third man did twice the amount of work of the other men.
By the time the lane opened up and I was free to move my car, the third man with his strong and determined efforts had caught up to the other two. They stood back and let him finish the trench on his own.
I found myself musing on the comparison between these workers and writers.
Some writers think they’re working. They write, they read, they attend writing conferences. They believe they are putting in an effort, but perhaps they aren’t seeing much progress.
And then there are the other writers—far fewer of them—who truly put their shoulders to the wheel. They attack their work with vigor. They bend their knees and put their back into it. Each day brings them closer to their goals until they cross the finish line.
Which kind of writer are you? Are you the guy standing on the sidelines, happily letting others push on past? Or are you the one who puts your shoulder to the wheel, and basks in the satisfaction of work well done?
I’m not sure I know the answer to that myself yet. Of course I want to be the one who crosses the finish line. And now that I’ve seen that hard-working man at the side of the road, I feel like I have a much better idea how to do it. I won’t get where I want to go with half-hearted efforts. I need to bend my knees and put my back into it.