Wanna be a better writer? Be more like this semi-truck driver.
“Are you f*cking kidding me?”
A semi carrying more lumber than the entire Amazon rainforest just cut me off.
And that’s not great, ’cause it’s about 1:50PM…
And I’m on my way to a 2PM meeting.
Eventually, I‘m behind the semi.
It’s delivering lumber to a construction site, but there’s a problem…
There’s practically no room for it to park.
I’m no geometry wizard, so I can’t tell you how much space he had. But I can tell you this:
If you would have put a gun to my head and said…
“Robert, if you can’t park this semi here, I’m gonna blow your freaking brains out…”
I would have said:
“Let’s save ourselves both the time.”
As the semi pulls up to the site, two men in neon-colored vests come out to stop traffic.
It’s clear they don’t do this often, as they continually look at the traffic to make sure no one is going to run over them.
Nonetheless, they’re doing their best. And I’m getting a front row seat to an increasingly exciting show.
At first, I wasn’t happy to be there.
But after accepting my fate, I realized watching this truck driver try to fit a big-ass semi into a space just larger than a residential driveway is pretty entertaining.
If he messed up, there were a few things that could go wrong:
1. He could get the angle wrong, back into the new construction, and destroy whatever they were building.
2. He could jackknife too hard and hit a telephone pole, no doubt causing a bit of mayhem.
3. He could time the acceleration wrong and get too much speed going over the curb (and probably back into the building).
And — at the very least — he was going to piss off a lot of drivers by making them wait while he attempted this futile task.
So, I sat behind the wheel of my impressively tiny Honda Fit and waited for the guy to f*ck this up.
He cuts his wheel to the left — hard.
I mean, I’ve never seen anyone jackknife a trailer that hard on purpose.
Surprisingly, this seems to be working.
Things are starting to line up …
But then it looks like something is about to go horribly wrong.
The cab is getting dangerously close to a telephone pole.
If he keeps going, he’s going to hit it.
So, I glue my eyes to the telephone pole and wait for the worst.
He keeps backing up, and I’m wondering if he doesn’t see the pole or if he’s just an idiot.
The guys blocking traffic are nearly as concerned as I am.
But the driver keeps going.
And just when it looks like he’s going to hit the pole —
He clears it with no more than a few inches to spare.
Problem solved. Right?
Now, he has to delicately maneuver this massive trailer over a curb without backing into the brand-new building they’re constructing.
He keeps backing up. And I’m starting to realize something.
From 53’ feet ahead, looking through a dinky mirror on his door, this guy can tell exactly when his tires are going to tap the curb.
So he goes slow, waits for the perfect moment, then guns it.
And, sure enough, he makes it over.
Then he straightens out the cab and proceeds to back straight into the cramped parking space within a matter of 15 seconds.
At this point, my mouth is literally wide open…
And I’m hoping one of these construction guys can see me, because I want them to understand the gravity of what just happened here.
When this whole thing started, I was frustrated. But now, I’m blown away.
Look, I know there’s no NBA for semi-drivers, but holy shit, this guy would be my #1 draft pick.
I knew I had just witnessed something impressive, and all I could think was:
“This guy is a technician.”
Every move he made was purposeful. Nothing about that flawless execution happened on accident.
He knew exactly how much space he had at all times. He knew when to be cautious. He knew when to go for it.
Everything he did was on purpose.
And I realized — there’s something beautiful about watching someone so skilled at their craft.
Someone who has gotten every movement down to a precise science.
Someone who — if you were to ask “Why’d you do that?” — would have an extensive response prepared about the logic behind their decision, as well as a story about how they came to that realization.
Everyone wants to be an expert, but no one wants to be a technician.
Being an expert is sexy.
You get to sit on your throne with all your knowledge and wield it like a big sword.
Being a technician is not sexy.
It means you’re in the trenches, grinding every day to eek out just a little bit of improvement.
Some days, you don’t have anything to show for your work, aside from a few frustrating stories.
But if you’re a writer — I encourage you to take the rocky path of the technician.
Knowledge is power — but only if you know how to use it.
Put your learning into action. Practice so often that greatness becomes a habit.
Put purpose into every single keyboard stroke. Have a mission for each word.
I was talking to a friend a few weeks ago, and he said:
“If you research something for 2 hours, you’re more of an expert on it than 99% of the population.”
Becoming an expert takes research.
But becoming a technician takes practice.
Look, it’s not sexy. I get it. But here’s what you’re missing:
In the process of becoming a technician, you’ll also become an expert.
But instead of only having knowledge, you’ll know how to use that knowledge.
And that’s where the true power of your craft lies.