Have you worked hard enough, yet?

“Teacher, the test was hard,” he said to me.

“Well, you did miss a lot of classes,” I replied.

“Yes, I know,” he said and smiled, slightly embarrassed and charming. “But, it was very hard for me.”

I smiled back. “And you didn’t have the book for the first four weeks.” This was week five.

“Yes, but I been busy, it was Ramadan and…” he shrugged. “I study hard but I been sick.”

“I know. I know.” I put my hands on my hips.

“I didn’t understand the part with past perfect and past perfect progressive. What was I supposed to write?”

I like this student. He is polite and wants to do well.

But some students don’t seem to know how to study. They think that a modicum of effort is hard work. They look blankly at the page when I ask them to check their work. “It’s fine,” they say.

How do you know you’ve worked hard enough on your writing? Is it the best you can do? How much work is a lot? Of course, other students overwork everything. They over think the grammar questions and wring their essays to death.

How do you know much work you need to do?

16 thoughts on “Have you worked hard enough, yet?

  1. I think you know you’ve worked hard enough when you’re satisfied with the results. If you’re not, then back to the drawing board.

    Of course, there are those who don’t really know what it means to be satisfied with the results, think everything’s fine when it’s not … but I don’t think you’re speaking to those sorts of people.

  2. I don’t know when I’ve worked hard enough. I work until I can’t anymore. When I can’t do anymore, I’ve worked hard enough. How do I know I’ve worked hard enough on my writing? When I don’t think it sucks, which is hardly ever.

    Is there ever such a thing as working hard enough on writing? I think if I let myself get to that point, I’ll become too complacent and full of myself. I need to improve. It’s an obsession.

  3. I don’t know. I really don’t. How do you get perspective on your work? How do you see it without being attached to the outcome? Without feeling it means something about your worth as a person?

    I think it’s good to learn to say, “it’s good enough.”

    Perfection is so destructive. Wanting to be perfect is such a recipe for failure.

    I’m just trying to learn how to release.

    Right now, I’m writing the opening scene of my novel. Again. I have never been able to hit on the right opening. I don’t know why. But I’m trying to look at it as if it were a book I was reading. What would I want to read?

  4. Well, for me there are really two questions here:

    1. Have I worked hard enough on something (sentence, paragraph, scene, chapter) already written? As others said above, this is sort of a seat-of-the-pants judgment call. I just need to be honest with myself.

    2. Have I worked hard enough to get the next thing (sentence, etc.) written in the first place? This is currently a big problem for me — not letting myself be distracted, not procrastinating, but just parking myself in front of the keyboard and writing. I think I need to find a browser plug-in which won’t allow me onto the Web between the hours of X and Y.

  5. With my novel, I worked as much as my energy would allow, and then some. It really wore me out. With non-fiction, I don’t work as hard, or at least it doesn’t feel like such hard work!

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