I procrastinate. A lot. This is no big secret. I think everyone knows this by now. The bigger mystery is “why?” and “what am I waiting for?” When it comes to things I hate or are at least uncomfortable with, there’s not much mystery there. But what about things I enjoy, things I’m excited about, things I want to do? Why in the world would I put off things that make me happy and clearly improve my life?
I have a number of books on art and writing that I’ve been reading or planning on reading. I love writing fiction and poetry (and blog posts, obviously) and I want to get better at writing. Now, I know that you don’t really get better except by doing it again and again and again, and yet, I find myself thinking, “I need to read these books before I do any serious writing.” (Bonus question: what the hell is “serious” writing? Please answer in the form of a Shakespearean sonnet.) I’ve also found Chuck Wendig’s blog posts on writing to be incredibly inspiring, although as inspired as I get, I still find myself thinking, “I need to read all of his posts and commit them to memory before I really dig into writing my own stuff.”
To better get a handle on my anxiety, depression, and ADD, I have various self-help and therapy books, as well as books specifically on meditation and attentiveness. I also have a number of websites I read for self-help and therapy. (I talked about some of these in an earlier blog post.) In my second consultation session with Ellie Di, we talked about me trying things for 30 days, to see if I could develop them into habits or see if they just weren’t for me. We decided trying 30 days of meditation would be a good start for me, for a number of reasons. Well, I haven’t actually begun the 30 days yet. I got it into my head that I needed to read up more on good meditation techniques before actually starting.
Stop. Wait. Think.
There are often good reasons to study up on something before you dive in. If you’re going to be running a marathon, you want to make sure you know the best ways to stretch, the best running techniques, the best breathing, and…well, whatever it is marathon runners need to know. (My lifestyle is best described as “Hobbit-like,” so long-distance running doesn’t play much of a factor.) But with writing and meditation? What are the dangers there? That I’ll sprain my imagination? I’ll calm myself down too much?
Long, long ago, when I was a wee lad, one of the things I wanted to be when I grew up was a cartoonist. My parents signed me up for art classes. I read books on drawing and cartooning. Now, my parents didn’t get me lessons and buy me books simply because I declared, “I want to be a cartoonist!” They did it because I was already drawing and wanted to get better.
I didn’t think about it. I just started doing it.
How did I forget that? At what point did it become so important for me to read about things before even starting? I mean, I know I’m anxious and self-conscious, but seriously, what the fuck is that all about?
And the funny thing is, I don’t think I’m alone in this. I think one of the reasons there are so many books on self-help, so many how-to books on art and writing and crafting, so many books on how to get up in the morning with a fucking smile on your face is because so many people think they have to know all the right things, have all the right tools, allocate the right amounts of time, get the conditions to be just right before taking one step forward. I don’t know why we think that. I don’t know what the fuck that’s all about. But I know we’re all wrong.
The first thing you have to do is start. Don’t wait, don’t think about it, just start.
The second thing you have to do is don’t stop. Don’t second guess yourself, just keep going.
And along the way, you can read, study, take lessons, get feedback. But you’re not going to get any better unless you start and don’t stop. And you’re never going to be ready to start as long as you keep worrying that you need to be ready to start.
(All the times I say “you” here, I’m really talking to me. Well, and people like me. We.)
Are you ready? No? Too fucking bad. Get set. GO!