Are you throwing the axe, or hitting the target?

I went axe-throwing.

We watch those zombie and apocalypse movies and figure we could master something like axe-throwing if required. Not so much. It was a lot harder than it looked. Time after time the head clunked into the target or skewed off. I counted steps. I calibrated the angle, the throwing energy.

Did I get better?

Well… I’d like to say yes.

Maybe if the wall was zombie-shaped and running at me, it would be easier?

My creative process was a lot like axe throwing. For the first decades I hurled that axe (manuscript) without any thought, planning or strategy. I had an axe and I could throw it. I’d close my eyes and hurl it, then feel absolutely shattered when the axe didn’t strike the target I wasn’t aiming for. I’d then toss that axe (manuscript) under my bed and never ever look at it again.

Having an axe and the ability to throw it is not enough. We need to know where the target is. We need to consider, is this the best target for us? We need to be mindful of how we position ourselves — are we aiming in the right direction? Most importantly of all, we need to take a few moments to reflect: what did we learn from our previous throw? Do we need to throw harder? Gentler? Stand one step closer or further back?

Strategy is required. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should hurl axes in all directions, then rage and howl at the sky when things don’t hit the target you weren’t really aiming for.

Let’s take a moment to consider our creative worlds and our creative ‘axes’. Is the weight right? Do we know where the target is? Do we have the right skills? What are we doing to learn and improve with each and every throw? How teachable are we? Who is giving us advice?

It’s time to ask ourselves: when it comes to our creative projects, what’s more important… Throwing the axe, or hitting the target?

First published on my website 8 April 2021

Nicole writes short stories and novel length speculative fiction and a weekly blog or