Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Just Do It

Personally, I hate that commercial. You know the one - skinny people jogging, jumping, exercising, and looking so fit and happy that all of us less than fit people feel like slugs. The fact that I hate the commercial doesn't mean its message isn't true. Half the battle for exercise-lacking humanity is that we think our fitness plans to death. We get up in the morning thinking about jogging (and not liking the thought), or thinking about playing a game of football with our sons (and liking that idea even less), thinking about the fifty sit-ups that will firm our abs (and abhorring that idea with every fiber of our out of shape being). Somewhere around noon, we realize we've spent half the day thinking about exercising and absolutely no time doing it. So, we spend another four hours thinking about the reasons why we spend so much time thinking and not much time doing. By the time we head to bed, we've utilized several million brain cells, but haven't moved from our front porch. Yep. I hate the commercial, but it's a good one.

What's this have to do with writing? Well, I find that many writers (myself included) spend more time thinking and talking about writing than we actually spend doing it. We're either the over-analyzing type frozen in place by our insecurity (yes, that would be me), or we're the groupie type (no offense to anyone who believes he or she may fit this), so busy with our writing groups and critique groups we don't have time for our writing. Let me preface this by saying there is absolutely nothing wrong with analyzing our writing, joining critique groups, or spending time with other writers. Doing those things has the potential to make us better writers. The danger is in letting those things become the goal rather than using them as tools to reach our goals. If we spend our time planning, thinking and talking we can not achieve our potential as writers. To write well, we must write. Thus, my title - just do it.

I bring this up as a reminder to myself more than to anyone who might be reading. However, I do believe that what one of us struggles with, many are struggling with. So, I challenge you to check your schedules, mark your calendars, and set your goals. Don't be afraid to reach beyond what you think you can do. If you write for a half hour a day, challenge yourself to double that amount. If you go by word count, add a few hundred words to your goal. Push yourself to achieve the potential God has laid in the foundation of you. Then check in and tell me how things are going. I fully expect to hear great and wonderful reports!


Sabrina L. Fox said...

Hey, sister, are you talkin’ to me? LOL. Sheesh, Shirlee!

It’s like you know exactly where I’m at. I just told my husband I was going to quit writing. He asked why and I said because I’m not progressing. I’m scared to death to send anything in. I haven’t finished my other book.

It’s so tough trying to juggle it all. I don’t know how you do it. That being said, I’m going to try something new where I get up earlier instead of stay up late. It seems that late at night I can’t concentrate and end up on the blogs.

You’re right, you need to just do it and quit talking about it. And as far as being busy with stuff, boy isn’t that true. It’s easy to get involved with too much other writing stuff and not spend enough time on writing.

Shirlee McCoy said...

Sabrina, I was talking to myself, but maybe we're the same person and we just don't know it. LOL

I can think of ten reasons just off the top of my head for why I can't write today - four kids, two cats, a loud bird, dishes, laundry, chronic pain, allergies, allergy meds. If I let myself, I can become convinced that life is just too hectic and I really do need a break. Of course, taking a break accomplishes nothing because for busy moms like us a break is never really a break. Everything we should be doing piles up and we end up with even more on our list.

What we really need to do is tackle one thing at a time, finish, and move on to the next thing. The first thing I need to do is finish contracted book #2 by the end of this month. The first thing you need to do is get over your fear of sending stuff in! What are you worried about? The worst that can happen is you get rejected. The good thing that will come out of even that is editor recognition. The next time you send something the editor will remember that she's read something of yours before. Proving that you're prolific is a good way to let an editor know you mean business (as in...I'm not quitting, so you may as well buy me :0)).

The best thing that can happen is you sell the manuscript, or get asked for revisions. How cool would that be?

So, what are you waiting for?

Dani said...

We're either the over-analyzing type frozen in place by our insecurity...

Okay, you hit the nail on the head (for me :o) I spend so much time studying the markets, getting depressed hearing they only publish 1%, etc...that I start to think 'what's the use.' But for me I couldn't stop writing if I wanted to, I can't not do it, so I manage to muddle through somehow.

But I find it REALLY hard focusing on what I should be focusing on--the writing and not all the other things that can distract and derail me--who's selling what, what everyone else is doing-am I doing enough, reading enough, the publishing business, research, email, blogs...

While all that has a place, writing has to come first. Lately when I feel myself getting all worked up about other stuff, I take a deep breath and realize what blessed life I have outside of writing and that really helps put things in the right perspective. Untill the next time I get derailed....

Shirlee, you are a wise, wise woman.


Jennifer Tiszai said...

Great post! I struggle with this all the time. It's hard to carve out the time, and then it's hard to justify it with all that demand our attention. It feels like a constant battle to me.

And Sabrina, I can crack the whip for you if you'd like. :)

Shirlee McCoy said...

You make an interesting point about justifying our writing time, Jennifer. I wonder, though, why we feel the need to do that. I mean, if we were gifted pianists would we feel the need to justify the time we spent practicing so that we could play the music at church? If we're homeschooling our kids because we feel God has gifted us to be their teachers, should we feel the need to justify the time we spend doing that rather than the dishes? We've been gifted as writers. Justifying the time we spend doing that seems like apologizing for pursuing our God-given talents.

This has been on my mind and heart lately. Perhaps I should blog about it. LOL

Anyhow, it doesn't get easier to justify even when you're getting paid to do it.

Dani, we really need to talk about that 1% thing. It's a statistic designed to make us feel like publication is an impossible goal. Fortunately, all things are possible...

Sabrina L. Fox said...

That 1% thing gets me too. I read a blog Karen Ball did with statistics for how many people actually make it and how many actually make a living at it. It was very depressing.

Shirlee, you've been right on target so far...hmmm...what could be next. LOL. No pressure. ;)

Thanks, Jen, for the offer. I probably need it. =)

I'm going to devote some time to finding more time in my schedule. LOL.

Camy Tang said...

Thanks for the post, and reminding me to stop lazying around.


Shirlee McCoy said...

Not you, Camy! I don't believe you've got a lazing-around bone in your body. I, on the other hand, have too many to count.

How's the second book coming along? Or were all three of your contracted books written when you got the contract?

Lynette Eason said...

Okay, Shirlee, you're gonna laugh at this one. Guess what I was THINKING about doing?

Yup, going to the Y and walking the treadmill...sigh...and as you see, I'm doing anything but...ha.

So, guess I'll shut up and go to the Y...just doing it...


Shirlee McCoy said...

There's got to be some calorie burning involved in thinking about something so much, don't you think? :0)