We are often fooled into thinking there’s some other program, specific path that only others know about, a unique road that we should take with a pat number of steps to reach our dreams.
Nonsense. You decide when. You decided how.
You’re the only one with the ability to follow through on your dreams.
Only you know what you value, what you’re willing to risk, and what your writing means to you.
Others may encourage you, support you, champion and cheerlead you, but they won’t do the work for you.
Sometimes you change your luck by deciding to change it. It’s the best way I can explain what motivates any major effort or change in my life, from adding in exercise to putting my writing out into the world. “Why now?” I’ve been asked by friends or colleagues.
There’s rarely any magic in it: I just say “Self, today is the day to take myself more seriously.” It’s from the “fake it ‘till you make it” school of success that I have long adhered to. Otherwise known as the “what have I got to lose by trying?” series of taking chances.
After my son was born five and a half years ago, sleep deprived and drained of my former prolific energy to work my butt off, I experienced the illusion that doors had closed to me. That writing had dried up. That work flow had ceased. Actually, I was the only one to shut any doors. I ran out of energy to give to those endeavors because I was a shell-shocked first time mom struggling to raise a baby. Well that baby is now a somewhat independent little boy and an only child. His independence has freed up energy that had gone underground.
As I spun closer to my 39th birthday in August, the question arose in my mind: why not now to take my writing career more seriously? I had always imagined my Big Dreams coming true by the time I was 30. And while several of those dreams were realized, my thirties has been a decade of steep learning curves and countless opportunities to teach me that loving the journey is crucial to any success.
This birthday, I listened to the little whispering voice inside me that said: “Go spend the day with yourself. Listen to what comes up.” Rather than having lunch with friends or my husband, I took myself to the Mt. Madonna Retreat Center (where I’ll be co-hosting a Deep Plot & Scene writing retreat in May, 2014).
What came up was: Now is the time to turn my writing career around. Today was the day to start.
Why? Because no one will do it for me. Because I find value in my writing life. Because I want to show my son what it looks like to commit, stick with and rise above what’s hard. Because I’ve invested too much of myself for too long to not keep giving it everything.
I opened the door a little crack, and all manner of surprising, exciting, new, big career opportunities came barreling through.
Now wait, again—this was NOT MAGIC.
These opportunities were all from seeds I’d planted; some recent, some ages ago. I followed up on connections I’d let flounder. I finished ideas I’d left undone. I collaborated. I took some chances. But most of all, I just said: “Today is as good a day as any.”
I also looked back on the 18 years that I have been actively pursuing a writing life and building a writing practice (though really it goes back much farther than that) and I saw:
No effort was wasted.
Every free gig, volunteer effort, labor of love, great idea that didn’t fully pan out, all the hours I donated, that went unpaid, every person I helped or took advice from—I could feel all of it as the deep water in the well of my success.
And the biggest marker of my “success”?
Learning to love the journey.
*As a side note: I never win anything. Seriously. So I take it as a powerful sign that this strategy is working. The lovely writer Brandi-Ann Uyemura of The Inspiring Bee let me know today that I am the winner of her Christmas Book Giveway from Steven Pressfield, author of one of my favorite books for creative types: Do the Work… Yeah baby.
Do something for your writing life TODAY. It will count. I promise.