Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Biggest Barrier To Accomplishing Your Writing Dreams

"There is a difference between interest and commitment. When you're interested in doing something you do it only when it's convenient. When you're committed to something, you accept no excuses, only results." 
~ Ken Blanchard

I recently began reading a book about sobriety by Jack Canfield (co-author of the Chicken Soup series) and Dave Andrews. What's interesting about this book are the multitude of little thought-gems and practical insights that apply to things much larger than cutting back from drinking. The book is actually a 30-day project and the full title of the book is The 30-Day Sobriety Solution.

In chapter one the authors strive to pound home the idea that unless you are 100% committed you will fail. As I read this I couldn't help applying its message to many other aspects of life, including careers, and especially writing. Here's a section from the paragraph following the Ken Blanchard quote above:

This rule means that once you are 100% committed, there are no exceptions and no renegotiating. Not only does this rule make life easier and simpler, it frees you from inner conflict. Instead of debating over and over about whether you will or won't do something, like drinking, your decision is already made. The real power and value from this comes from all the energy you can now redirect to focus on what you actually want to create and accomplish in your life.

Over the course of a lifetime of writing I have met numerous people who told me, "I've been told my life should become a book." In most cases their stories really are remarkable and should be recorded and shared. These people know they are not writers, but have been led to believe they had a story to tell. And then there are the people who have told me they were planning to write The Great American Novel or some other important book they had inside them. One friend, who has never written a paragraph of fiction in his life, said he was going to quit his job, go to Florida and sit on a beach for four months to write his novel. Ha ha ha.

Writing is not the easiest occupation and it's far from the most lucrative. That doesn't mean you should not pursue a writing career. It may be that you want to simply improve one of the most important skills that apply to any career, the ability to translate jumbled or abstract ideas into concrete prose, into words that actually convey the nebulous notions in your head and heart. It ain't easy. Or I should say, it's not easy to do well.

The authors' next paragraph brings it home, though.

However, the moment your commitment drops to 99%, you open the door for the internal debate to begin, and when it comes... this is a debate that usually ends in a rationalization...

Right there, that's the problem, whether it's a relationship, a dream or an addiction of any kind, it's the rationalizing we do that brings us down.

Do you really want to be a writer? Or do you just tell yourself that and make excuses. Maybe it doesn't matter whether you write or not. Maybe you just like researching things. Or you like the feeling that is associated with saying you are going to be a writer.

I'm not saying you should not be a writer. What I am saying, however, is that i you have been talking about writing a book for five, ten, twenty or more years and have not done it, then you're just not committed. Total commitment is the only way to accomplish something hard. Either you're all in or you're out.

Yesterday I read a news item about Tuesday's passing of Phil Chess, co-founder of the influential Chess Records, and it reminded me of a story I read in Keith Richards' autobiography Life.  Richards stated that when he, Mick Jagger and another friend discovered the blues through Chess Records they didn't just listen to the music, they locked themselves up in an apartment until they learned how to play it. That is, they made a commitment. They were so committed, Richards states, that they didn't even allow one another to have girl friends. Their music was their life. Until they could play the music they loved, nothing else mattered.

If you're serious about writing the book you've been talking about all your life, it's time to prove it by making the 100% commitment necessary to move forward. It's a commitment that involves sacrifices, but it's worth the rewards.

Meantime, life goes on. Where do you see yourself five years from now? 

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