People quit all the time and the sad reality is that they usually give up long before they actually officially call it quits. I’ve done it and you’ve probably done it, too.
We’re human after all. There’s nothing wrong with giving up and quitting, but there is something wrong with it, if like it was for me, it’s killing you inside and you don't want to give up.
If that’s the case you need to do something about it, and the good news is that you can do something. If you want to…
This guest post is by Bryan Hutchinson. Hutchinson is the founder of the award winning blog Positive Writer (be sure to sign up and download his free eBook, “Good Enough: Stop Seeking Perfection and Approval”), and he’s the author of the Amazon bestselling book: Writer’s Doubt: The #1 Enemy of Writing and What You Can Do About It.
Let’s be clear, you’re awesome, but your awesomeness might be buried deep inside of you just waiting for you to let it out. Sure, some of it has seeped out from time to time and you’ve felt the rush of exhilaration when it has, but it’s usually been short lived and just not enough to sustain you.
It’s time to change that.
It’s time to release your awesomeness upon the world and become the writer, the designer, the painter, or the all around artist you truly are. You know, gosh darn-it, the creative person you’ve always wanted to be – unleashed!
Unleash Your Awesomeness
But I warn you, the quotes that follow in this post are not the easy, flowery, hug-inducing kind of quotes. These are kick-you-in-the-pants quotes that tell it like it is and CAN change your life. Read them at your own risk, because they might change you forever. Or, they might really tick you off – in that case, my apologies in advance.
1. No Excuses
If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.
Excuses erode your awesomeness more than anything. You might not even realize that excuses are holding you back, so I’ll give you a quick example. There are many writers who want to self-publish their work but they first ask me a seemingly harmless question such as, “Do you really make any money from selling your books?” (Emphasis on really.)
It’s a foregone conclusion in their minds translated as: You’re probably not making any money from your books so there’s really no reason for me to publish my work.
People who ask the “are you really…” question are usually looking for an excuse to not publish their work (or even to write it, for that matter) because they assume the answer already. My actual answer is irrelevant to them.
Do you need an excuse for not doing whatever it is you once dreamed of doing? Whatever you do, never seek excuses, because you’ll find them.
An easy way to resolve excuses is to examine not just the questions you’ve asked, but how you asked them. Are they loaded questions with words like, really, emphasized?
Ask questions that empower you to move forward and not questions that are self-defeating.
- What is my passion? (Writing? Painting? Knitting?)
- What is my dream? (Will be the result of living your passion.)
- What are my goals so I can live my passion and achieve my dream? (Make a list and keep it simple.)
- What can I learn to help me attain my goals? (Make a list.)
If you dream of writing a book:
- How many pages do I need to write per day to finish my book in a year?
- How much time do I need to set aside each day to write five pages (or more)?
- Who can help me accomplish my writing and publishing goals? (Teacher / Coach / Friend / Mentor)
- What else do I need to know and learn? (Make a list.)
Those are just a few ideas for getting started.
2. Attain the Information and Tools
One of my favorite Stephen King quotes is about the need to read if you want to write:
If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.
I don’t know how many times I’ve received emails and letters from people asking me about how they can overcome fear and doubt, and generally become more confident writers. 9 times out of 10 when I respond asking them if they've read my book Writer’s Doubt their answer is, you guessed it, No.
I'm one to talk. I remember years ago when I wanted to start improving my self-esteem, several times I came across Norman Vincent Peale’s book The Power of Positive Thinking and I didn’t pick it up. I don’t know why, maybe I wasn’t ready for it or I didn’t believe it would help, but eventually a friend loaned it to me and I finally read it. It did nothing but change my life dramatically for the better.
Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.
― Norman Vincent Peale
I could never have imagined the difference a book could make. I've since purchased the book hundreds of times and given it away to people I thought could use the information and might want to read it.
The point is this:
The book you don’t read can’t help you.
When the late, great Jim Rohn discussed a book he was advised to read, he said this:
"Guess when I went and got this little book... The SAME day I heard about it. I went and got it."
So somebody says, “Well, Mr. Rohn does that make you different than most everybody else?"
Jim's answer was, “YES!”
Jim Rohn further stated he became a millionaire by the age of 31 in part thanks to the lessons in the suggested book that he chose to read. He didn’t wait for someone to convince him to get the book, and with only pennies in his pocket he didn’t consider if the price of the book was a bargain or not, and he didn’t even fret about whether the information would help him or not before he read it.
No. He got the book the SAME day. And read it!
Most people don't do that. Clearly this made Mr. Rohn different than most everyone else and it showed.
Let me tell you, this type of do-it mentality for your self-education and your future makes a world of difference. It's not only about the information you gain, it also demonstrates to yourself and others just how serious you are.
You are serious about your work, right?
If there was a lecture in your area about a subject you need to know more about for your endeavor and you skipped it, okay, how about going next time. If there was a class that you could've taken to improve your knowledge about your project and you skipped it, consider going to that next time, too.
But let's throw this out there, what does not going say about our determination?
If there’s a book you can read that will improve your knowledge and give you the tools you need, and you don’t read it. Why not?
Aren't you willing to invest in yourself?
Stupid question. Of course you are. Right?
Consider this, some people get the books, take the classes, and listen to the lectures, and some don’t. Some people just can't be bothered with that stuff.
Some people invest in their self-education and some don’t.
Some people succeed in their endeavors and some don’t. Guess which ones.
It’s not hard to figure out why some people succeed when you examine their self-education.
Jim Rohn always has the best quotes on the obvious:
Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you... a fortune.
The good news is that it’s never too late to start (or continue) your self-education.
It's. Not. Too. Late.
This isn't about my book Writer's Doubt, because maybe you're as confident as you need to be as a writer and do not experience fear and doubt. That's okay. And if you do experience the occasional bout of doubt, or fear, or just need to boost your confidence a bit, then hey, go ahead and read it.
But maybe you need to improve the technical aspects of your writing, maybe you need to work on your story's arc, or some other part of your writing. There are an abundance of excellent books to help you with those things.
If you're not a writer, you get the gist, this applies to you, too.
Whatever you need to work on, work on it, and educate yourself as much as you possible.
3. Take Action
In the end it comes down to pulling the trigger and taking action. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard people tell me that they have a book in them and one day they’re going to write it.
If I had a nickel for every… Well, you know the cliché just as well as I do.
You are what you do, not what you say you'll do.
If you’ve been saying you want to write a book or that you have a book in you, and you really want to write that book, then sit down and start writing.
You might not know where to start and that’s perfectly okay and absolutely normal, just write whatever comes to mind and allow your brain to work it out on its own while you write.
That’s the funny way the brain works. If you try to consciously work things out it might take longer, but if you start the doing of the process of writing (or whatever your project is) your brain will help you without you even realizing it. That’s why it is so often suggested to “Let go and write.”
Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.
Too many of us want to have it all laid out before us before we get started, the perfect outline and even a formula for where we are going, why we are going there, and how we are going to get there, but the reality is that creativity can be suffocated when so controlled.
If you try to control your creativity and wait until you’ve “got it,” an idea, a plan, a map, an outline, exactly the way you think it should be, well, you might be waiting forever.
Let go and get started now.
Writers write. Dreamers talk about it.
―Jerry B. Jenkins
Start writing, start painting, start playing new music, and you know, for whatever your art form is just do it, let yourself go and allow your creativity to take over.
Here are your assignments, if you want to do them:
- Find an excuse you’ve been harboring and let it go.
- What can you learn to help you with your project? Are there books you can read, classes or online courses you can take? Are there lectures and/or podcasts you can listen to? Perhaps all of the above?
- Start writing. Whatever your endeavor is, don’t wait for the perfect circumstances, get started today. There’s never a better day than today.
One last quote for the road:
When a good writer is having fun, the audience is almost always having fun too.
So remember, have fun too, ― lots of it. Now go forth and unleash your creative awesomeness unto the world!
I'd love to hear about your current project, share it in the comments.
Other writing/publishing articles & links for you:
- Here are 10 questions you need to ask your characters.
- How to create an effective synopsis for your novel or memoir.
- Chapter 1 cliches and overused beginnings -- see them all here.
- Here are 7 reasons writing a novel makes you awesome.
- New Agent Alerts: Click here to find agents who are currently seeking writers.
- Download a year's worth of writing prompts right here.
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Brian A. Klems is the editor of this blog, online editor of Writer's Digest and author of the popular gift bookOh Boy, You're Having a Girl: A Dad's Survival Guide to Raising Daughters.