Competent Competence

Sensational Saturdays

a blog for whatever crosses my teeny tiny mind


   [kom-pi-tuhns]  noun

1. The quality of being competent;  adequacy; possession of required skill, knowledge, qualification, or capacity. (source

How do you know when you’ve hit competence? Is it when you receive a certificate?

To whomever it may concern, Jessica Aspen has reached competency in this subject. Signed, the Dean of the Official School of Competency

The other night, while walking around the track with my husband, I had a moment of clarity. Perhaps epiphany is a better word. Or shall we use the “Ah-ha moment”? Either way it happened. I was walking around the track after my stint on the elliptical and I realized I felt good. Not just, oh thank God I’m off of that thing good, but a true down deep feeling of satisfaction. And competence. I actually felt good at what I was doing. Just walking at a good pace, around the track. I’d had a very good session on the elliptical, pushed myself a little, and now I was ready to take on the weights. And it felt exceptionally good. Usually I feel like I’m finished and I could skip the weights. I don’t. I just slog through and get to the “Ah” moment of the hot tub. Then I am simply exhausted. But on Thursday night I was empowered. And this is coming through in my writing. Actually my editing. Currently I’m plotting and editing and not truly writing. Editing does take a certain amount of writing, and in this case I  did add on several pages to my story, but it’s mostly a state of fiddling. Anyway, I had a great day Thursday and I realized, walking around the track, that I have reached competence. Margie Lawson at the Lawson Writer’s Academy teaches about the stages of mastering a skill.

  1. Unconscious Incompetence:  The individual does not understand or know how to do something and does not necessarily recognize the deficit. The individual must recognize their own incompetence and the value of the new skill before moving on to the next stage.

  1. Conscious Incompetence:  Though the individual does not understand or know how to do something, he or she does recognize the deficit as well as the value of a new skill in addressing the deficit.

  1. Conscious Competence:  The individual understands or knows how to do something. However, demonstrating the skill or knowledge requires concentration and there is heavy conscious involvement in executing the new skill.

  1. Unconscious Competence:  The individual has had so much practice with a skill that it has become ‘second nature’ and can be performed easily.

I’ve been stuck at concious competence, and while I can’t say that I’ve reached the fifth step, actual mastery, I am at the stage where writing and self-editing have become comfortable. I don’t think too hard about what I’m doing as I go through the process of self-editing my pages. And it hit me Thursday night. I am competent! A year ago I wouldn’t have said that, even if I thought I’d reached this stage. I think part of reaching this level of competence is knowing you have the right to say it. The confidence to admit to competence. It’s not a false claim. I’m not claiming mastery or perfection. And my editor at Passion in Print Presswill tell you that I’m still struggling with the serial comma. But competence does not mean perfection. It doesn’t mean mastery. It means an adequate possession of a skill. And I’m there. And it feels good. No, it feels great!

The Superstars from Woo Hoo U

Do I have a long way to go? Yes, but I finally feel ready to move on to the next level of Margie’s classes. Many of my class mates from Woo Hoo U have taken Margie’s advanced classes, and I have felt unready. I have felt like I needed to just practice, practice, practice. But I think, no I know, that I’m ready. Competence feels great! I highly recommend it. Tell me, have you every reached this stage of mastering a skill? Have you ever had that “Ah-ha” moment of clarity that you can do this. How did you feel when it happened? Leave me a comment and don’t forget that you can get another entry every time you leave a comment in my Little Red Riding Wolf contest. Enter or register your comments HERE at the rafflecopter plugin on Paranormal Freebies. And you can get another entry by commenting today at Paranormal Muse, so come on by!


Filed under channeling success, Sensational Saturday's, Writer's Journey

10 responses to “Competent Competence

  1. Brinda Berry

    It’s a good analogy with the exercise. I’m getting better with the writing where it doesn’t feel like “slogging along” and hoping to be finished. I’m certainly not at mastery. I read Allison Brennan’s post the other day about her own feelings of doubt and it made me see that the doubt keeps you sharp and improving.

    • I am sure that doubt will still be my constant companion. But it was so nice to feel good about the writing, to realize that I have learned and processed and become something more due to my efforts. We don’t get much feedback, working alone like we do, I think we need to enjoy the moments of joy. Because there are so many moments of doubt. Allison Brennan, another Margie Grad!

  2. Great epiphany, Jessica. Oh, to not dread the elliptical! When will it be my turn?

    I totally get conscious competence, and remember recognizing that point of my development mastering the two-wheeler and long division. I’m not conscious of the moment I graduated from panicked young mother of a colicky newborn to the calm, collected woman who rocked a teething baby on her hip while folding laundry and teaching the older child to sound out the letters in his name, but it did happen.

    • Love your examples of competence. It does happen eventually that we become so capable we don’t even think about it. I’m sure I will lose this feeling about my writing soon, like next week, but for today- things seem easier.

  3. WOOT! Shout out to the WOO HOO U Margie Lawson IMC grads in the photo, clockwise starting with the beautiful lady in pink at the bottom: Joan Swan, Gloria Richard, Jessica Aspen, and Me.

  4. Yippee, Jessica on your epiphany! I’m using that word because it’s one of my favorites.

    Is it possible to be a varying levels of competence in my writing life? Example: I struggle with conscious competence in proper ordering of stimulus/response. Yet, I write with other rhetorical devices at a higher level. There’s a natural flow to the cadence of each POVs voice when I’m “in the groove.”

    One non-writing area in my life that stands out for me is Spanish. When I took Spanish classes, I would talk to myself in Spanish while I tried to fall asleep seeing how long I could speak without hitting a word I didn’t know. At some point–a bell didn’t go off when it happened…

    But, at some point I realized I had started to think in Spanish rather than English-to-Spanish translation. I kick myself for letting that language atrophy for decades. But, I’m getting it back. Blessing or curse? The Spanish stations on my car radio are all religious programs? Hail Mary or The Lord’s Prayer in Spanish, anyone? I’m your gal!

    LOVE that WOO HOO U pic. So many memories. Sigh.

    • No sighing! We will have many more memories to come. And yes, I definitely know I’m not competent in all areas of my writing. I’m not even close to expert at any of it. But I am adequate. I have reached a point where I am not scrambling for help for every thing I do. And I feel good about it. So, yes Gloria, there is variety in our competence. Celebrate the places you feel great!

  5. Whoop! Almost forgot to mention. I AM competent in writing cursive. I have a Handwriting Certificate signed by a certified teacher to prove it. Thought that might be relevant for my writer skills set.

Share your thoughts:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.