A judge nods. Madison takes a deep breath and hops onto the tiny platform. I zoom in with the video camera.
I’ve seen this routine dozens of times. But today it’s tough to watch. Today is not her day.
She starts out fine. A little unsteady on a turn, but she immediately corrects herself. Then she leans forward, holding her leg at a 90-degree angle. Unexpectedly she loses her balance and drops to the mat. Bummer.
Without missing a beat, she hops back onto the beam. She leaps. And turns. She’s still a little shaky. Finally it’s time for her dismount. She kicks her legs into a hand-stand, struggling to hold it in place. I catch my breath as she lands on the wrong side of the beam. Oh Maddie!
Again, she climbs back up. But she moves too quickly. As she stands to her feet, her arms flail and down she goes! Oh Madison! My heart drops. I know how hard she has worked. The many hours she has practiced. Yet today she has fallen – not once or twice – but three times! Even from the stands, there’s no missing the look of disappointment on her face.
But as Madison moved on to her next event, she reminded me of some important lessons. Lessons I can apply to my writing goals. You may find them helpful as well.
1. Be persistent.
Each time Madison fell off, she got back up and tried again. That’s what I need to do with my writing. I remember the first article I ever submitted. I spent hours trying to make it the best it could be. Finally, I mustered up the courage to submit it to a magazine. Months later I received a form letter saying, “Thanks, but no thanks.” I felt like I’d been punched in the gut. I was tempted to quit. But like Madison, I needed to keep trying. After all, I’ll never succeed if I don’t try.
2. Surround yourself with people that will encourage you.
I love this quote by Joe Charbonneau: “People are either the wind in your sails or the anchor on your tails.” Throughout Madison’s beam routine, I could hear her teammates cheering her on. Even after her third fall one little girl yelled, “Come on Maddie, you can do it!” I’m very fortunate to have good friends who encourage me in my writing. They keep me going, even through times when I feel discouraged.
3. Don’t dwell on your mistakes. Learn from them.
Madison didn’t allow her struggles on the beam to affect her performance on her remaining events. Somehow she put her mistakes behind her and still finished the day well. Mistakes aren’t always a bad thing. Especially if you can learn from them. When it comes to my writing, I am always striving to learn more. I try to remind myself that I’m a better writer than I used to be, but not as great as I’m going to be.
Last month Madison competed at our state tournament. She ended the season with her best all-around score of the year. I was so proud of her hard work and perseverance – and very relieved when she stayed on the beam!