Rewards

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Race through your work, and loudly proclaim you are finished. Such is the pattern of some elementary school students (and adults, by the way). You’ll undoubtedly see this tonight: kids racing up to a door, quickly getting their reward (and hopefully saying thank you…or at the least, “trick or treat”), and then they are off to the next task, the next house.

A wise teacher in one of my children’s classes is teaching that in writing, great authors write/edit/review until the papers are due. In other words, the revising and refining of their work should continue until the paper is shipped, so to speak. During this type of writing, the students are not receiving applause or attention while they are trying to create something of value. This teacher had to remind us, the Gen X helicopter, everyone-gets-a-trophy group of parents, to support them in this effort, as it’s difficult for many of them to stick to it until the teacher collects the papers.

Maybe this is the same feeling we have as adults. If you’ve ever tried to create something of great value, whether it be the blueprints to a new building or a novel or bold artwork, something that requires a great amount of concentration, drafts, edits, and revisions, etc., then you’re aware that in order to do so, you have to, in essence, go away for a while. Many authors I know literally go away – retreat from social media or leave their homes to free themselves of distractions in order to create something of value. The reward is coming later, and no amounts of retweets or accomplishments of trivial to-do lists or marketing shine will finish the long-term, valuable project.

So it is with many of our long-term, personal projects: being a good spouse/significant other, getting in shape, building wealth over time, raising kids. Thankless tasks where no one is patting you on the back, and the reward comes much later. We can’t race through those.

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