I’ve never considered goal setting my thing. I’ve never consciously set a goal in my life. I just drift and do, disregarding desire for excellence.
Who planted a goal for excellence in your brain? Your fourth-grade tutor, your high school English teacher, your competitive friend in debate? Perhaps a Catholic nun?
Maybe the President of the National Honor Society who wouldn’t share flashcards as you both prepared for the SATs and curled her body around test papers – as if she was uniquely endowed with all the correct answers and everyone sought hers to cheat.
It no longer matters you know. You’ve succeeded. You’ve careered. You’re an adult.
And, in today’s wonderful world of Internet and apps to pursue writerly excellence, you have Grammarly, Scrivener, and AutoCorrect, whether you want them or not.
In early writing groups I felt abashed because I didn’t have an MFA. Others seemed to sit taller, grasp their pens tighter and more fluently to a page. Their ink bedazzled me. I wondered if there was a gene for sentence diagramming or surely a salt shaker-like device to pepper a tale with adjectives so precise that one could see the person, place, or thing being described.
Metaphors to die for, grand similes, and great gist and jest.
Or else they stealth-used tools cited in this article title, never ‘fessing to the crutches that yielded such deathless prose.
And, slowly I began to absorb praise heaped upon me. My ‘voice’ was spontaneously achieved, my writing’s pace spritely and even and eager to reveal a story, my vocabulary precision-hone by a lifetime of robust reading. My MFA was infused from my mother’s gene pool.
The voice, specifically, comes from my dad. He was born to riff, as am I, with musicality, sense of humor, and an attitude to take little seriously.
None of these programs trump my heritage. None of the add-ons will ever outdo my mom, who fostered and tutored and honed and blessed my writing finesse. My mother did everything with a kiss and a hug. Excellence personified.