Doing Something Instead of Nothing…
I have wanted to blog regularly for several years now. I have made declarations to do so, I have talked myself up to hit the ground running, only to fall flat on my face. And then; nothing happened.
I didn’t write, well; I did write and never finished. Not because I’m flaky and not because I didn’t want to finish. It came down to one simple thing. Can you guess what it is?
Fear. Plain and simple. I was afraid.
I was afraid no one would read it, and if anyone did read it; they would certainly rip it to shreds, calling me a fraud while telling me that I have no idea what the heck I was talking about. I was afraid of what people would think or that people wouldn’t care.
I started many an article, with gusto and with some good topics, only to get halfway through and give up. Leaving them unfinished, unedited and ultimately unpublished. I would sit down gung-ho ready to share my thoughts nd discoveries with the world. Then the inevitable would happen; the gremlins would start chiming in. You know the gremlins (not the scalie, lizard looking little monsters from the movie) but that voice of self-doubt in your head that begins to get louder and louder with every stride toward progress you make, in whatever it is you are doing.
That’s the negative self-talk. And it’s something that we all wrestle with. You know it too, that voice that begins as a whisper: “why are you doing this, you’re not good enough to be writing about this.” or “who do you think you are to be giving advice to anyone, NO ONE CARES!” and the more you begin to listen to it, the quicker the whispers turn to shouts and when you can no longer ignore it, you give in. Even worst, you start to listen; and before you know it you are singing right along with them. “Why am I writing this, no one is going to read it.”
This is your fear. We all have it. Your fear is trying to protect you from the haters and the naysayers. Your fear is trying to keep you safe in your little bubble; where no one knows you or what you are capable of. You are safe here because you go unnoticed. You are that lone tree that falls in the forest, but no one can hear.
Is that really where you want to be? Making small, bite size declarations are good for somethings. “Tomorrow, I will do laundry.” You get yourself ready, you set aside time and because you know it has to get done, and even though you may hate to do laundry, you do it because you said you would and you know that if you don’t, you will have no underwear to wear tomorrow.
But to declare something long-term can be dangerous. “I will publish one article a day from now on!” Yikes. Most of us are just setting ourselves up for failure, and deep down, we know it. For the few, rare people who actually do every single thing they say they will no matter what, it’s not a big deal and people who know you, know you will keep your word. Those people are the people who don’t care what anyone else thinks. They don’t care what anyone says, they are going to do it simply because they want to, for themselves and if no one else likes — that’s ok.
For the vast majority of us, the best method is simply not to think about it too much, not to waste time planning and just do. Start. Let’s face it, all the time we spend planning is just procrastination from us actually doing the work and being one step closer to achieving out goal.
So don’t plan it, just do. Leave the negative self-talk behind, crank up the rdio with some instrumentals and let your fingers move to the rhythms and the words flow out of your mind through your fingertips, spilling on to that beautiful, black digital canvas.
I know this is something we hear all the time, I’ve heard it for years; “Just do, don’t think.” But it’s hard. It’s hard to shut off the voices and believe you can do that thing you have wanted to do for so long. But, we also hear all the time because it’s true. If you don’t start now, you may never start.
Maybe you’ve waited too long and now someone else has written that book or made that product. That does not mean you can’t make your own version of it. But that’s what we tell ourselves. “Oh, someone beat me to it and made that thing I was going to make. Guess I’ll wait until I have another worthy idea.” NO.
How many different brands of baseball bats do we have? And they all serve the same function, you hold it, you swing it and hit the ball as hard as you can with it. That’s it. How many different brands of shampoo exist in this world, good lord. In doing a quick Amazon search and got 63,874 results. That means 63,000+ people said “I can make a better shampoo than the other guy.” and did it. Don’t hide behind the fact that someone else wrote it or built it first. Your version will be different because your thought process is different than theirs and maybe it will even better.
For me, it’s writing for this blog. I write for myself as well as to share my thoughts and knowledge with my fellow designers who might be interested in what I have to share. But writing one’s thoughts for the (potential) world to see is a frightening, even paralyzing if you think about it. You are putting a part of yourself out there for everyone to see and judge.
I have been publishing an article once a week for last two months. I made no declaration about it, it just happened. Of course I had no idea, I was going to do it either. I got the itch, I had something to share and so I wrote, I wrote it for me because I didn’t want to forget. I opened my doc and did a massive brain dump, got it all out of my head. Then I went back in and edited, and before I could talk myself out of it, I hit the publish button.
Sure, I could have “un-done” it and traveled back into the menu and hit ‘Delete Post’. But something happened. First, of course, the words “oh, shit.” went through my head with a ping of fear that flowed through me. Then after a moment, the fear turned to excitement, “I did it, I actually posted something to my blog. Holy shit!!” Then came the realization that it wasn’t that difficult, if I got out of my own way and focused at the task at hand, which was simply to write, the next few steps aren’t that painful.
Suddenly I was eager to share it with the world. Even if no one read it, which I was sure would happen but, I didn’t care because it was still a huge accomplishment for me. I followed through. I did that thing that I was too afraid to do and no one pelted me with stones.
It was such a great feat of accomplishment for me, I was addicted to the feeling of doing; of starting a task and seeing it through to the end. It really is a huge sense of accomplishment and if I get nothing else finished in a week, I know that I have started and finished something. I have proof of it, I can type in my blog URL and see the results for myself.
After consistently publishing one article a week, I now try my hardest to publish an article every Wednesday. Once I did it for over a month, I had another crazy thought, “What else can I do?!” I was ready and eager to push it just a bit farther. Then one weekend on a whim, I decided I would publish a quick little weekend post of links I found interesting during that week, but just didn’t get around to tweeting or sharing the links I saved to read later; when I had the time. And my little Weekend Edition was hatched.
Once you can get past the fear, the process of doing truly becomes addictive. This is how the professionals do it, they build the moment and run with it. Once you’ve passed that first hurdle and clear it, the next one doesn’t seem so scary and you run toward it just a little faster. Don’t believe me? Try it.
What’s one thing you have been putting off because it’s too hard, too scary or just don’t have the time? It’s not as hard as you think and I bet if you look close enough, you really do have the time.
Originally published at communicatinglongform.com.