Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Progress: A Double Edged Sword?

We’ve been told many times since we were little: be careful what you wish for. Whilst this might have seemed a strange concept when we were younger, I think as you get older, it gets much easier to understand. 

As writers, we wish for progress. We long for it. We want to hone our craft and get better, we want to write stories and novels, and perhaps we even want to write things that will sell one day. All that requires some element of progress. Nobody is born a talented writer, although it’s hard to think that legends such as Shakespeare weren’t born to be literary gods. 

But progress is a strange thing. We spend all this time hoping and wishing for progress, practicing writing, editing, and doing everything we can to better ourselves. Inevitably, that sees time go on. Making real progress can take years. At some point, we all look back and wonder where on Earth our time went; we were too busy wishing it away, dying for that future moment where we would look and see progress in our work.

I’m not saying progress is a bad thing. Not at all. But time goes quickly, and as we grow up and get older, sometimes it seems like we haven’t heeded those long forgotten words: be careful what you wish for. We wished for progress, and we got it. 

Yet progress means more expectation. It means pressure. Even once you’ve published that won’t change. People will still expect you to write well. Fans – if you’re lucky enough to have fans one day – will still expect the very best from you. They will expect progress. And as you’re dwelling on this, perhaps you’ll look back to a time where you weren’t quite so skilled at writing, where you hoped and dreamed to be better than you already were.

I suppose what I’m really saying is take solace in the small things. Be happy with all that you have achieved so far. It’s OK to hope you progress, but don’t waste all your time wishing about it and making yourself feel bad. Progress is good. Just don’t get caught up in it. There is much more to life than seeing progress: it’s far too easy to forget that life is progressing too. 


On a final note, you can expect a review of the second Game of Thrones book, A Clash of Kings, on Saturday. Plus, I wanted to link to this article by Chuck Wendig about the possible new storyline for Lara Croft which frankly is horrifying, and as a woman, I too think what this says about society is pretty shocking – I agree with every work Chuck Wendig says. (Be warned, this includes swear words aplenty).


  1. Too true! If you focus too much on writing, you'll never make progress elsewhere in life, but if you only wish for progress and don't do anything for your writing, the progress is never going to happen. Thanks for sharing with us Fiona. Hope we can all find the balance.

    1. Thank you for reading, Bonnee. It was quite a reflective post, especially with everything going on in my life right now, so I'm glad I've had the opportunity to share my thoughts with people! I do too.