I have a confession to make.
I am a writer.
Well, I was before life stepped in.
Well, I was before I let life step into my home and make itself comfortable while my writing wilted in the back of a stuffed closet.
And, yes, I write here for Blood-Red Pencil, I write in preparation for teaching, I write in my journal, but you all know what I mean, write, er, right? I'm talking about the writing that transports you into a new world that you create, a world full of angsty characters and obstacles and drama and love and hate …and all the other wonderful components that go into making a story.
THAT's the writing I HAVEN'T been doing.
And when you are a creative at heart, this is painful. When you have characters and ideas taking up space in your mind, but your heart isn't moved to write, this can be extraordinarily painful.
Right now, I'm at an impasse. There has been NO progress in my writing life, and there will be no progress until I stand and make a choice to reinvigorate my writing life.
My most favorite quote is "Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can." The brilliant athlete and person Arthur Ashe definitely knew what he was talking about when he said this.
As a writer, I'm in a place of non-movement. I think all people have been there before. You feel you know what you need to do, but for whatever reason, you are catatonic.
When in this state, the answer is not to remain stagnant—but to move. You don't have to move fast, but you have to move forward to get yourself out of the thoughts, feelings, inaction that keep you immobilized.
I want to act in my writing life, so I am slowly putting Ashe's thought into practice by doing three things.
Finding an Accountability Partner. I used to be good at keeping myself honest with work, but then life came and made me focus more on my circumstances than on what I could do while in those circumstances. My best friend, who also happens to be an excellent writer, Samara King has stepped into the role as my accountability partner (AP). As such, every month, we are telling each other our overall monthly goals and our smaller weekly goals, and we are e-mailing, calling, texting—whatever we can do to make sure we do the work…and to have the whip at the ready if we don't do the work.
Setting Goals. Ask anyone who knows me, and they will tell you that I'm a girl who loves to set a goal. I'm excellent at it. One problem I have, however, is focusing too much on the BIG picture and becoming so frightened by that picture that I stall and complete few things. To help combat this issue, I'm using the app todoist. I'm using it on the web, my phone, and my tablet. There, I am able to set those BIG picture goals, and I then set the small stepping stone goals that will eventually get me across the finish line. I have even connected my AP with this objective as she and I share a project to-do list so that we can cheer each other on and shake a ruler when our progress slows or stops.
Taking Little Steps. Go Hard or Go Home. Rise and Grind. Good Things Come to Those Who Hustle. We live in a world that suggests that if you're not living and doing at Red Bull Addiction speed, then you're not going for what you want. And that's simply not true. If you have the ability to go hard, to grind, to hustle, do so. But some of us who are unsure of where to step next should not feel the need to go for leaps and bounds moves—or to feel bad about ourselves if we can't make those lightning-fast moves. This is why setting big picture and small step goals is so important. This is where Ashe's quote definitely comes into play for me.
- Start where you are. Where are you right now in your writing life? What are your big goals?
- Use what you have. What do you have in your world right now that you can use to achieve these goals?
- Do what you can. What can you do—right now—to achieve these goals? That "what can you do—right now"? That's the little step that you need to think about—the little step that moves you closer to your big goal, that ultimately makes you want to take more steps.
Finding an accountability partner, setting goals, taking little steps—these three things are all connected by one more aspect: habit.
I'm not saying it will be easy. In fact, I have done these three things before and not lived up to my own hype.
But with habit—with actually taking the calls, texts, e-mails from my AP; with looking at my calendar and happily checking off work completed; with taking those small steps toward an ultimate goal—I can learn to make these things as normal as breathing.
Like they used to be.
What's on your mind? How does it relate to writing? How can you use it to further develop your writing?
|Creative Passionista Shon Bacon is an author, a crafter, an editor, and an educator whose biggest joys are writing and helping others develop their craft. You can learn more about Shon's writings at her author website.|