8.01.2013

Go Out and Get Busy

It's ironic that it's taken me so long to write this post about fear and writing ability.
I've been rolling these words around in my head and my heart for weeks.
But something always holds me back from putting my fingers to the keyboard.
Am I scared of success?
Afraid if I really try I won't be any good?

I had coffee with some friends last week, creative types, and we all agreed that we somehow tend to procrastinate when it comes to our passion. We will find 10,000 other things to do besides just sitting down and doing the thing we claim to love.

I find myself doing idle cleaning, straightening or unnecessary email categorizing all before I sit down and write. I put all the 'busy' tasks in front of my craft.

I get a daily writing prompt from The Write Practice. It's a 15-20 minute exercise to improve my writing skills. I signed up at the beginning of the year thinking this would be a way for me to focus more on my writing and expand my skills. Often, I just filter those emails into a folder with the intent of catching up...someday.

Sometimes the prompt doesn't speak to me, but other times it seems it was written specifically for me. A couple of weeks ago, I received a prompt titled 'Why You're Not There Yet, and Why That's Alright,' The author, Kellen Gorbett, had this to say:

A recent trend has become common among writing teachers and writing bloggers and within writing circles that we are writers simply because we choose to write. If you hold a pen in your hand or a keyboard at your desk, you are a writer. While this ideology has proven valuable for creating the identity of a writer, it has also performed a disservice to other professions.
For a commercial airliner to even consider hiring you as a pilot, you’ll need to have logged approximately 3,000 hours of total flight time, including at least 1,500 hours in a multi-jet engine, and at least 1,000 hours as pilot in command of a turbine powered aircraft. These are just the minimum requirements, and anyone that’s ever been up in a single engine plane will tell you that an hour in the air takes much more effort (and money) than an hour at the keyboard.
Consider doctors. After undergraduate school for pre-medicine, there’s the Medical College Admissions Test, then four years of medical school, then 3-5 years of residency. In Malcolm Gladwell’s best-selling book, Outliers, he suggests the key to success in any field is a matter of practicing a specific task for a total of 10,000 hours. Bill Gates spent 10,000 hours programming before graduating high school. The Beatles performed live 1,200 times from 1960-1964 before making it.
I don’t know about you, but I haven’t logged anywhere near that many hours of writing yet. So why do I expect to write like a professional?

Exactly.
I barely write for more than a couple hours a week. Often, the only writing I do is journaling. Or work procedures. Or grocery lists. 
That hardly counts as 'professional.'

I've made it a life goal to someday be a professional writer. To freelance as a career. 
I'm not sure what that really entails except that I want to share my words freely. I want people to come to me and say 'Would you write a piece about {insert subject here} for my blog/newspaper/book/etc?'
I want to have an impact in some way.

To do that is going to take practice and hard work. 
A lot of it.
So why do I constantly self-sabotage?
What is it about actually chasing dreams that is so scary?
Why do we put off the things we most care about and fill the void with stuff that is absolutely meaningless?

Peter Bregman wrote this article** for Harvard Business Review about two lists you should look at every morning.
1- Priorities. The focus list- full of all the things that you are trying to achieve. The things that make you happy.
2- Fluff. The ignore list- stuff that is a time filler but does nothing to help you achieve your goals. 

I've linked to this article multiple times and shared it in my Sunday 7 multiple times. 
However, I constantly choose NOT to heed his advice. 
I've actually added creating these lists to a list of to-dos. 
It's obvious I have a problem with priorities. 

So this morning, at 6 AM, I sat down and made a list. And guess what. It wasn't that hard: 

PRIORITIES
·        People (spouse, family, friends, community)
·        Health (physical- exercise/eating healthy/sleep, mental- me time, spiritual- God: front and center)
·        Work (when at work- do work)
·        WRITING

Look at how easy that was?
The 'Ignore' list was also a no-brainer:

·        TV (netflix marathons anyone?)
·        Social Media (yeah I can cut back)
·        Unnecessary emails (one word: UNSUBSCRIBE)
·        Over Scheduling (empty calendar time is okay)
·        Spending (easiest time waster of all)
·        BUSY Tasks (stuff that no one cares about but I somehow make a priority- ie. Reorganizing shelves for fun)

I'm making myself a promise- here and now- to put the things that I matter at the front. 
To take action with my goals and quit waiting for things to happen. 
To quit being scared of my potential. 
To quit wasting time with stuff that doesn't provide a benefit towards achieving the life I want to live.

Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy. ~Dale Carnegie

**Thanks to my good friend Erin for sharing this most important article with me.