Professional Driver, Closed Course

We’ve all seen those car commercials. Feats of driving skill on display, whether it’s a high end sedan coursing through snow or a series of cars separating at top speed along a sandy highway or a dark SUV swirling and weaving along a winding road. (I work in advertising as my day job – I could keep going on car ad tropes all day….)

In every case, if you look at the fine print at the bottom of your TV screen, you’ll see the notation, “Professional Driver, Closed Course.” It’s a legal disclaimer, obviously, but in thinking about it, I realized that there’s something else to it.

The performance illustrated on the screen in these feats of driving skill are just that – achievements by those with truly superior skills behind the wheel of a car. They’re done by professionals, trained in the maneuvering and actual physics of driving a car. It’s a skill that goes beyond basic driving or a steady hand on an open stretch of road.

Most of us believe we’re good drivers (and since something like 90% of us believe we’re above-average drivers, you do the math) <g>. But the professionals on those commercials are superior. Their skills have been practiced and honed to a level the average driver doesn’t have.

In a lot of ways, I can see parallels to a writing career. Talk to anyone (or maybe 90% of them!) and people believe they have a book in them. Maybe they do. It’s not my place to doubt their abilities or skills, but what I also know is that most will never write a book. They may be highly proficient writers – just as about half of us really are above average drivers – but that doesn’t mean they are storytellers.

Just like those professional drivers on closed courses, we take the wheel each and every day, week, month and year, honing our skills, practicing our craft and writing.

So as we continue our journey through the Winter Writing Festival, I’d encourage you to think about your own writing. Be the driver, charting your own course. Believe – and know– that you are the professional at the wheel.

Happy Writing!



11 responses to “Professional Driver, Closed Course”

  1. Great reminder on how important it is to keep working at your skills. Even when you take time to breathe, you can still be working on them. Reading is one thing I do during my break period, since I tend not to read as much when I am writing.

    • Addison Fox says:

      Thanks, AJ!

      I also think it’s about recognizing that BY honing those skills we are increasingly focusing on our own expertise. There’s always something to learn or get better at, but the very act of doing has value as well!


  2. Susan Craig says:

    Addison, this post is a great encouragement and I agree with Autumn… we all need the reminder to continually improve. Thanks!

  3. Elizabeth Langston says:

    One of my early “fails” when I started writing was the part about being a storyteller. I felt good about my writing skills, but the storytelling part took me a while to figure out. There are a lot of skills, talents, and attitudes that have to come together to make it in our business.

    • Addison Fox says:

      You are so right on that – there are so many various skills and tools in our writers toolbox to learn!!

  4. Gwyn says:

    Love this post, Addison. The ability to write well does not a storyteller make. By the same token, a good oral storyteller may not be able to make the transition to the page–at least, not without extensive craft training, and even that is no guarantee. Too much ‘training’ can dilute your voice to a faint echo–take it from one who’s struggling to regain what used to come quite naturally. However, steering into the skid, for those with with RWD, will straighten things out in due time. Time to put my driving skills to the test. 😉

  5. Thanks for the encouraging post, Addison. There’s always something to learn and improve but it’s great that we’re in control of our course.

    • Addison Fox says:

      Thanks, Bev!

      And I think that’s so important here – we are in control. Much of the writers life – the business aspects – aren’t in our control, but working on our craft definitely falls to us!

  6. Ooh, I love this analogy. So apt. Both driving and writing are things that many people believe they can simply do, regardless of their training or practice-level. I will keep aspiring to be a Formula One level writer. 🙂


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