I stand on the edge of strike and follow through. I wrote the thing: bam! Now it’s time to see it through.
I love to learn new things. The beginnings are exciting. Five years ago, I learned to code. Over the last few years, I’ve been learning how to use Adobe applications, the latest was InDesign. Bright, shiny new tricks are fun, but it’s important to remember one of the oldest lessons I learned: follow through.
As the daughter of a coach—and coached by my coach mom—I heard the directive “Follow through!” on a regular basis. This applied to nearly every sport I played, but especially tennis, because it’s not enough to swing at the ball. After the strike, the follow through makes the desired outcome possible.
On the brink, I sit with the work of several readers and two professional editors at my fingertips. I was anxious for this moment to arrive, but now that it’s here, ugh, Can I just work on the next one?
It’s time to wake Evil Edith, my Inner Editor. She’s not really evil, but she’s a nuisance when I’m writing, interrupter of flow, slayer of confidence. So, when I write the thing, I put Edith the Editor down, lock her in a basement closet, chain her to the wall, block her energy with duct tape.
This is the inevitable season of reckoning and reconciliation with Edith, inevitable because Edith is on the follow-through team.
Why Follow Through?
These lessons that I’ve learned over the years apply not only to athletes and writers. Follow through is relevant to life because very few acts are enough without follow through.
It’s not enough to…
- tell a friend “I care” yet never follow through with corresponding acts.
- go to all the classes and not show up for the exam.
- make campaign promises then dissolve them in the politics of the office.
- display ally signs and bumper stickers without using your voice at the dinner table and in crucial conversations.
- swing at the tennis ball then drop the racket short of follow through.
- write a novel and jump to the next one without waking Edith the Editor.
Follow through is not fun and sometimes it’s downright hard. Can I just jump to the next thing?
Follow through isn’t extra, it’s the essence and integrity of your efforts, and it’s worth the extra stretch to make sure those giddy initial endeavors gain purchase.
Follow through is worth the extra oomph to nail the ball on the far left, just beyond your opponent’s reach, it’s worth the discomfort of engaging your voice in support of your friends in the margins, the stigma of fighting for the promises you made, the late night preparing for exams, the extra stop to show up for a friend with food, a broom, or just time to sit.
The follow through might seem like a dispensable extra but, more often than not, it’s sealing the deal.
Today I begin sealing the deal with my first novel. I’m waking Edith. I brace myself because she’ll have a lot to say, but she’ll help me follow this project through.
What about you?
How are your follow-through skills and determination? Does it come easy or do you struggle with it?
Are you standing on the edge of a follow through?
How do you coach yourself through it?
I’d love to hear your follow-through stories and challenges, so please, follow through with a comment.
©Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved. 2022.
I couldn’t agree more. I’m in the final edits of my first book and I just want to get started on #2 but the follow through struggle is real.
I tend to be very OCD so I’m okay with follow-through. I need closure and will keep going till I get it, like a dog with a bone. It’s a good trait in some ways, but exhausting in others.
Hadn’t thought how OCD might impact the tendency to follow through, but I get it!
I learned follow-through playing baseball. It’s part and parcel of the initial swing. So follow-through with my novels? Just a continuation of the original swing. If I don’t separate–or even think about– the two, the creation and ‘Edith the Editor’, but leave them melded into one, I can sail right into follow-through. I usually make it through two edits before the momentum wanes. By then? That book is what it’s going to be!
Lovely article, Pennie! I never thought about these things before…
Follow through – one of my weaknesses, too. Example: I gather research information and don’t read it, for example. It’s fun to do the research hunt; not fun to read the results. This post was an eye opener.
Definitely not the “funnest” part.