We all need a push to achieve at one time or another. Sometimes this push comes from within (intrinsic motivation) and sometimes it come from without (extrinsic motivation). So what do you do if the people who are meant to helping you achieve aren’t hitting the mark?
When I was in Year 9 I submitted my old Year 7 creative writing pieces for what I considered a work-free A. Having become a teacher myself, I know there’s a lot of ways something like this can happen but the important thing is that I wasn’t growing as a writer.
So, what if you’re happily (or unhappily) puddling along, not going backwards but actually…not going anywhere? Here’s some tips:
Talk to your teacher, mentor, tutor or lecturer. Depending on what sort of learning you’re doing and what sort of institution you’re in this conversation will take on different forms. In all cases, though, it’s best to be respectful. Explain that you need more of challenge or that you’d like some pointers on where and how you can improve your work. Don’t be scared to ask for feedback and examples of what makes a good piece of writing.
2)Talk to someone else
No one likes it when someone goes behind their backs but if you’re not having any luck talking to your teacher (etc.) then take your writing to someone else who is knowledgeable and you whose opinion you trust. Again, be respectful. Don’t bag out your teacher and don’t rub it in your teacher’s face that you’re going elsewhere for help.
Google is your friend. So is your library. Unsurprisingly, people who enjoy writing for a living, write books about writing (is that meta-writing? Have I invented a new term?). Reach out on your own and find information that will help you improve.
4)Suck it up
Maybe you need to admit that you’re slacking and push yourself. When I was 15 and I ripped off 13-year-old-me’s work the only person losing was me. Not bludging and creating the best work I could wouldn’t have got me a gold-plated A but it would have made me a better writer. Maybe that’s true for you, too. Don’t be content with doing just enough, push yourself to do more. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that what counts is the mark you get. What counts is the skills you learn and the ways in which you improve.
When have you just cruised? And when have you needed to suck it up?