Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Tip for Tuesday - Your Growth Chart
They also plotted his height on a growth chart. He's always been tall for his age, but now he's in the 97th percentile. Theoretically, out of every 100 boys his age, he would be taller than 96 of them. The funny thing is, they never find that 100th boy. Unless my child is headed for the Guinness Book of World Records, he will not be the 100th percentile.
Because I'm a writer, I got to thinking of how growth charts mimic writing journeys.
First, wouldn't it be great if you could plot your progress on a growth chart? Plug in your manuscript, and some guru-scanner processes it and spits out a ranking. "You are now at the 64th percentile. Good job!"
Second, this growth chart would measure more than our writing skill. The writing life will stretch you and force you to grow in ways you never imagined. You'll learn to handle rejection, criticism, disappointment, and long waits. You'll also learn how to handle compliments, success, fulfillment, and joy. There are lots of ways to plot your progress. How many words have you written? How many contests have you entered? Have you finaled in a contest? Have you submitted your work to an agent or editor? Have you had a request for a full manuscript? Have you had a novel published? More than one?
Third, there is no 100th percentile for a writer. Just as there is no 100th percentile on a medical growth chart, there is no author who has arrived, who has achieved that mark of never needing to improve anything. Not Stephen King, not Flannery O'Connor, not Dick Francis (though he got awfully close in my estimation!) In the words of the fabulous Angela Hunt, "We are all muddling in the middle." No matter where we are on this journey, where we might fall on the growth chart, we have room to grow. Personally, professionally, spiritually.
So, where do you think you are on the writer growth chart?