February 26th, 2010 by Rosemary
Go Big or Go Home

I’m watching the Olympics tonight (this wasn’t my original post for today) and women’s figure skater Mao Asada from Japan just landed two triple axels in her long program, the first women in Olympic history to land one, let alone two in the same program. (And three in the same competition, since she’d done one in her short program.)

The thing is, her program came on the heels of the ovation that her main competitor, Kim Yun-na of South Korea, received for achieving a record Olympic score under the new scoring system. So, no pressure or anything.

The commentators had been talking during the warm up about whether Asada would do both triple axles. One was definite, the other an option. But the thing is, at that point, she had no reason not to go for it. Her best chance was to hold nothing back.

One of the things I’ve always done–and it’s one of the reasons that I had so many unfinished books before Prom Dates From Hell–is struggled with holding something back. If I have some big, huge idea, I have a tendency to hold back from it, to “save” it. For when I’m a better writer. For when I’m more established/famous/best-selling. For later in a series, for later in the book…

All those hypotheticals are about fear. Fear I’ll peak too soon, or leave myself nowhere to go, or no way to top it. But the biggest fear of all, of course, is that I’ll blow it somehow. That I won’t execute it properly, that it will seem hokey/stupid/silly/over the top. Or that my skills aren’t up to the task.

But when it comes to writing, the stakes have to be high. For your characters, and for yourself as a writer. You’re always trying to achieve that next step up on the figurative podium, whether it’s your first sale, your first award, or your first best seller. So commit to the big ideas, and throw your heart into them.

When I say “go big or go home” I mean within the scale of your story.  “Big” can mean the scale of your fantasy battle, your villain’s villainy, or your heroine’s heartbreak.  You have nothing to lose by committing fully.  You should never hold back from your readers, or from your best writing–it’s not fair to your readers, or to yourself. Write every book as if you have nothing to lose.

And somehow, you’ll always think of something just as big for the next one. That’s what we writers do.

Be Sociable, Share!

10 comments to “Go Big or Go Home”

  1. Catherine
     · February 26th, 2010 at 11:38 am · Link

    FYI: Just a quick correction, Midori Ito was the first lady to land a triple axel in the Olympics (Albertville, France). She only did it in her long program and not in combination with any other jump.

    Thanks for an interesting post!

  2. NinaP
     · February 26th, 2010 at 12:03 pm · Link

    Great advice, Rosemary. Thank you. :-)

  3. Rosemary
     · February 26th, 2010 at 12:11 pm · Link

    Thanks, Catherine. I must have misinterpreted what the commentator was saying (or, you know, not been listening that closely). It was probably the combination that was the important part. Or something. All I know is Scott Hamilton was all, Whooo! First ever whatever.

  4. Rosemary
     · February 26th, 2010 at 12:12 pm · Link

    You’re welcome. Now if I could just get better at taking my own advice, that would be awesome. 😀

  5. Ken Marable
     · February 26th, 2010 at 4:28 pm · Link

    “But the biggest fear of all, of course, is that I’ll blow it somehow. That I won’t execute it properly, that it will seem hokey/stupid/silly/over the top. Or that my skills aren’t up to the task.”

    Oh my frelling goodness yes. It feels like those words above were written directly to me. I have spent literally years trying to focus on smaller, less ambitious work but kept losing steam as the draw of the really big ideas kept pulling. But, like you said, I avoided them because I was always too worried that I’m not ready for them.

    Thank you for the reminder to go big or go home.

  6. L Moore
     · February 26th, 2010 at 4:37 pm · Link

    Your post couldn’t have come at a better time for me as I am about to do a rewrite on a story. Thank you.

  7. George Allwynn
     · February 26th, 2010 at 8:56 pm · Link


    Do you have like – ummm — some kind of kinky psycho – kenetic thingie going on?

    Like your mind has reached out through the Internet waves and attached itself to my brain in a cyber kinda Vulcan mind-meld?

    Gesh. You gave me the willies.

    Your post hit pretty close to home for me.

    Too close.

    Now, I’m gonna have to mull this concept over in my mind — and I really didn’t want to do anything thinking this weekend.

    Thanks a lot, buddy.

    (and keep the good advice coming)

  8. Andrew Sansone
     · February 26th, 2010 at 11:10 pm · Link

    Kim was amazing and so was Rochette. Very inspirational! And they were Trending Topics on Twitter today! 😀

  9. @jmartinlibrary
     · February 27th, 2010 at 2:16 am · Link

    Rosemary, wow, I’m verklempt.

    Love your thoughts. As usual, they are things I need to hear. Here’s to going big!

  10. Nadia Lee
     · March 20th, 2010 at 12:25 am · Link

    Mao is the 1st woman to land THREE triple axels at the Olympic Games, but she’s not the 1st to land a 3A. Also you can’t compare the quality of Mao and Midori’s triple axels. (Midori, who lost to Kristi Yamaguchi, was a far superior triple axel jumper.)

    As for her going all out, she had nothing to lose and she was under an enormous pressure from Japan and her federation to try three 3As even though her success rate on that jump is very very low. Most don’t realize how much pressure Mao & Yuna were under since Arakawa’s victory in Turin. Mao will endure another cycle of relentless pressure and madness, since she plans to go to Sochi. Yuna hasn’t decided what she wants to do.

    <– skating fan

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Subscribe without commenting