Something Worth Doing

If something isn’t challenging, you don’t usually gain much from it.

When I was a Boy Scout and it became obvious that I was totally uninterested in moving forward with the program, my Scoutmaster pulled me aside.  He said that, since I was one of the older scouts in the troop, it would help motivate some of the younger boys if I got my Eagle.  He offered to help me earn it and said that he could make it easy for me.  I don’t remember my exact words, but I responded with something along the lines of, “If it’s easy, it’s not much of an achievement.  If I ever get my Eagle, shouldn’t I do it on my own?  Otherwise it doesn’t mean anything.”

I guess he wasn’t expecting that.  But since I refused his help and I wouldn’t be setting an example for the younger scouts by earning my Eagle, he instead used my philosophy of “if it’s not hard, it’s not worth doing” to try and motivate the other boys.  He seemed to respect that, even if I was lazy and didn’t want to work for my Eagle, at least I made a good point about effort and reward.

This has been kind of a repeating theme in my life for a while.  When things get difficult, it forces me to assess how much I want what I’m trying to achieve.  Writing a novel was fun, but it was difficult and at times it was positively grueling.  But I found it more personally rewarding than draining, so I continued.  I haven’t written a New York Times bestseller, but I came up with a product I’m proud of.  It was challenging–and the feeling of completing it was extremely gratifying.  And it motivates me to do it again.

One of my current writing projects is another novel which tackles a subject matter that’s kind of a raw nerve for me.  It’s a very personal, sometimes painful topic for me to write about, and that makes the prose emotionally taxing as well as just plain difficult to produce.  But it’s important to me, and that’s what keeps me going.  I know that, when I overcome the challenge and finish the novel, I’ll get this powerful and cathartic sense of accomplishment.  It will be a personal victory and along the way I will have improved my craft and learned something about myself.  None of that would be the case if writing the novel were an easy task.

And if it were easy, I’m not sure I’d consider it something worth doing.

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2 comments

  1. I strongly identify with what you’re saying. Growing up, I was one of those people to whom most things came very easily, to the point that my mother sometimes worried that I wouldn’t learn how to work hard or endure disappointment. Well, my mother needn’t worry now. I seem to have chosen as my profession the one thing in the world that’s hardest for me to do, and that I’ve been doing the longest with the least remuneration. Writing is every bit as hard as everyone says. And, for that reason, every bit as rewarding.

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