In the warmer months, I am lucky enough to be able to take this idyllic walk through the woods. I took a picture of this little hill because to this day, whenever I walk up a hill, I hear the voice of my high school cross-country coach saying “Attack the hills!” And I STILL, no matter the fact that I graduated from high school almost 30 years ago, go a little faster every time I go up one.
Here is the principle behind “attacking the hill.” As my coach explained it, the hills are where you blow away your competition. Most people, when they see a hill, get intimidated. They know it will be hard-going, so they slow down, conserve energy. But the idea is to instead GO FASTER when you are on the hill, because when you get to the top, you can just coast down and recover from your efforts. If you go faster on a hill, that’s when you can pass everyone else and win the race.
Now, I’m not saying that life–or writing, because we all know I will come back to that eventually–is all about winning or losing. But it is certainly about stamina and longevity and triumphing over adversity. It’s about not giving up when you see a big hill ahead of you.
Here’s the part about writing. As a writer, I can guarantee that your career is going to have very tough moments. There will be lots and lots of hills–finding an agent, finding a publisher, dealing with declining sales, with career stall-outs, with professional jealousy, with so many tough situations that you will face. But it’s about how you handle the hills that will determine ultimately how successful you are. You have to see the hills as an opportunity, a place where if you are strong enough, if you keep pushing hard enough, you will ultimately win the race. If you let the hills intimidate you and make you slow down or even quit, that will never happen.
And just remember, after you conquer the hill, it’s all downhill from there. At least until the next one.
If you’re reading this, maybe you’re facing a particularly big hill today. If so, get out there and in the words of my wonderful coach, attack it! I believe in you. I’ve had lots of hills in my life myself.
P.S. 10 points if you recognize the song reference in the title. 🙂