The most important thing I have learned over the years is the difference between taking one’s work seriously and taking ones self seriously. The first is imperative, and the second disastrous. – Margaret Fontey
I stumbled across this quote in a book yesterday. I know nothing about Margaret Fontey. She only turns up on Google as the originator of that quote, rephrased enough ways that I’m not even sure how she worded it. But the sentiment is always the same, and it strikes a real chord with me.
Taking your writing seriously is important. Having enough self-worth to say ‘this is really worth doing, and I’m going to commit to it’. Not doing work you can’t take pride in, whatever that work is. Knowing that, if you take pride in it, it’s worth committing your full effort to do it well. Because when you take your work seriously you become ready to constantly refine and improve, to reach towards excellence, to put your effort into a few great pieces rather than a bunch of rubbishy ones.
Taking yourself seriously on the other hand closes you down to criticism and improvement. You risk becoming pompous and defensive. No matter how great the things we’re writing, we all have our faults and our absurdities, and it’s very important that we aren’t too attached to our own pride and dignity, that we’re open to criticism and improvement.
Speaking of which, I’ve not done nearly enough work this week. Better go get down to it, or I’ll never improve.