There’s quite a distance between terminal mediocrity and conscious competence but there are also steps, conscious, and unconscious steps, to take from one end of this spectrum to the other. Or, you could continue to fly in a holding pattern over the spot you’ve called your comfort zone.

      1. Unconscious incompetence (also known as terminal mediocrity) lies at the beginning of everything. It’s a baby crying in the cradle. He can’t do a thing for himself and doesn’t know he can’t. Because he is unconscious of his state he could be doomed to terminal mediocrity as a human being. Because he is a human, however, his mind develops and he strives to grow, to achieve to whatever he is capable. Random crying becomes selective crying for example. The baby has moved on to:
      2. Conscious incompetence. Usually at this point he is not called a baby but a child, but that’s semantics at work. This stage could last forever. The child is still incompetent and he knows it. He can use his wiles but cannot control his functions. He becomes frustrated and carries on like a two year old, because that is what he is. Perish the thought he should remain in this state or his frustrations will consume him. Young men and women in their twenties are usually finished with this stage. Mid-twenties denotes the completion of the judgement functions of the brain.
      3. . . .

Okay, you say, we’ve been reading this drivel for some time now. What gives?

What gives is my fevered brain at work trying to generate a idea of when I will finally achieve my writing goals. At this point I seem to be hovering over the following step. So, if you will allow me to continue?

3. Unconscious competence. I’ve been in this holding pattern for some time; maybe eight years. Which is bad because I’ve been writing for eight years. I’m holding unto some of step two, the frustration. That combined with the knowledge that I can write (see step four) leaves me in some sort of a no-where land, like a teenager but worse since somehow I’ve gotten to elder-hood without watching where I was going. I know I want to write, and I write, but I’m not certain of the correctness of everything that appears on the page. Think teenage boy driving before his brain has fully developed. No, don’t think of that. Think practice can make perfect.

4. . . .

There’s more?

Yes, there’s one more. But I’ll leave out the follow-up commentary. How’s that?

Okay. Good.

4.  Conscious Competence. This is the ultimate goal. The pinnacle, the apex. To know what you want to do, and how to do it. No faltering. A confidence backed up by knowledge. Getting out of the comfort zones of all the preceding stages and moving ahead. That’s where I want to be. Confident.


About Eleanor Ingbretson

Native New Yorker. Transplanted to New Hampshire years ago, but still considered a flatlander by the neighbors. Writer of fantasy and mystery and whatever else takes my fancy.

Posted on November 28, 2017, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I don’t think I believe in conscious competence, if it entails feeling confident while writing. Over those same eight years, I’ve learned a lot but confidence comes only in fits and starts. My father-in-law, a professional writer, said that when he was writing something, he thought, “This is drivel! Why can’t I do this? I used to be able to do this.” Years later, he would read that same piece and think, “Damn! I used to be able to do this. Why can’t I do it any more?”


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