Sydney Avey

Dynamic Woman — Changing Times

Step Up Your Game

Oct 21, 2015 | Learning curve, Writing life | 1 comment

conductorWhen is it time to step up your game? I’ve been in the writing game for about four years now. I’m getting sour on on clicking links and signing up for seminars that tell me what I already know. That’s my bad.

There was a time in my writing when I desperately needed to know Ten Errors Writers Make, Responding to Rejection, and Format Your Novel for Submission. Just because I’m familiar with the basics doesn’t mean I’ve mastered them, but spending time reading repackaged tips won’t help me step up my game. I have to open my manuscript, plod through my revisions on a disciplined schedule, and put into practice what I already know.

Are there times when you’ve paid for a conference or an online seminar and come away dry? You were hoping for an aha you didn’t get? Maybe you chose a familiar topic hoping to learn something new and it was the same old. “I tried that and it didn’t work,” you say.

Stop doing/paying for what isn’t working for you! 

Sometimes a new strategy will energize you and take you places you never expected to go. In addition to finding my voice in fiction, I work to improve my singing voice. A wise worship leader once told me, if you back off the microphone because you are afraid of what your voice will sound like, you are doing exactly the the wrong thing. When your back off, he said, your voice distorts. Lean in closer and you will sound better. My choice was to stay in my comfort zone and sing out of range of the microphone until I felt more confident, or to take a chance that he might be right.

Keep in mind, all he said was that I would sound better. A microphone won’t make me an amazing singer, but proper use of a microphone has helped me sound better. Most of the time.

I didn’t expect to do any choral singing this fall in Arizona, but a friend urged me to join the choir at Christ Presbyterian Church in Goodyear. The opportunity to sing in a choir led by professor, 18th century music expert, conductor, and author David Wilson was too good to pass up.

At the first Wednesday night rehearsal, it was apparent this would be a stretch. The vocal warmup alone was instructional and challenging. He went on to pull the best we could give out of us as we sprinted through songs, hymns and anthems. On Sunday morning, he dropped a descant on the sopranos he had written for us following the week night rehearsal.

At rehearsal, he coached us. “Now that’s singing,” he said when we finally got it. “Do you hear that? Before, you were just talking on pitch.”

And, “The meaning is in the consonants. The emotion is in the vowels.” That’s the same thing storyteller Cynthia Restivo taught a small group of us last month at a writer’s retreat. Singing will help me step up my game in literary readings, and vice versa. This is working for me!

Lean in closer to what you are passionate about

My singing improves when I place myself under the authority of the choir director and fixate on his every movement. My writing improves when I drop the checklist and sidle up to my characters, trusting what I’ve already learned to work for me. When you lean in close, self-forgetfulness takes you to places you never thought you’d get to.

It’s an exercise in faith.

Do you have a passion that beckons you to move closer?

photo credit: Practice. Practice. Practice. via photopin (license)

1 Comment

  1. Mary

    I am passionate about our Bible Study and losing my prejudice about Texas big hair ladies.. and their cuteness

    Beth Moore has is a wonderful teacher and role model of a biblical scholar.
    The entrance of His Word brings light, and I am sharpening my sword.

    missing you,


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