Observe the following scenario. Tell me if this sounds familiar.
One day, you’re driving in your car/watching TV/taking a shower/folding laundry and all of a sudden this AH-MAH-ZING idea comes to mind for a new manuscript/screenplay/song/painting/whatevs. I mean it’s so amazing, that you’re pretty sure you stole the idea from someone else. You’re so sure of it, in fact, that you decide to do some Google searching for other stories about a fairy love triangle that could decide the fate of an alternate universe called Laptopia (you even narrowed your search to Laptopia references and found nothing). Sure, there are fairy stories, and love triangle stories, and alternate universe stories, but nothing that pulls them all together and definitely not with the plot points you’ve got in mind. So, all systems are go on this new creative project and you’re so stoked you have to fight the urge to tell everyone around you. I mean, it’s brilliant and everyone should know how special you are.
You get to work. Hours turn into days. Days turn into weeks. Weeks turn into months. You’re not sure how good any of it is, but it’s on paper. You yell at people who interrupt you. You barricade yourself into your little artist den and curse the souls that try to pull you out.
And then it happens…you just stop.
Sure, it’s happened with your other projects, but it isn’t supposed to happen with this one. This one is brilliant. This one is special. This one is going to help you live up to those lies your mom has been telling people about you for years. But no matter how hard you try, all you want to do is watch season three of Orange is the New Black instead of stare at your computer screen for another second.
Then the doubt spiral starts (see previous post). You’re not brilliant at all. You’re a joke. Everything your mother has ever said has been a lie. You just want to give up. Why can’t you just fly through this? It should be easy. You have the idea, you know where you want it to go, so why can’t you get it on paper?
(Shut up Ryan. You don’t know what you’re talking about.)
(Just kidding…I love you.)
There has to be something wrong with you, right?
Wrong. The only thing wrong with you is that you thought it would be easy.
This scenario happens to me almost EVERY SINGLE TIME I start a new project and I didn’t realize what my issue was until I got back into regularly practicing Pilates.
For those that don’t know, Pilates is a magical type of exercise that forces you to make intense mind-body connections. You have to REALLY think about what you’re doing, which muscles you’re working, and how you’re breathing. If you’re doing it right, you shouldn’t have time to think about anything but the movement. Your mind should be still.
The other thing about Pilates, or training in pretty much any type of exercise, is that it isn’t supposed to be easy. You have to focus and really build each muscle from the inside out. The more you practice, the stronger you get and eventually the basic exercises become second nature. Once you have that solid foundation, you can start to build upon it and try some trickier things. But if you don’t have the basic stuff down, you’ll never be able to do the more complicated moves (or if you do manage to figure them out there’s a good chance you’re doing them wrong and could really get hurt. I’m talking neck-in-a-sling-how-did-I-hurt-a-muscle-I-didn’t-even-know-I-have hurt.)
It took about a month of getting back into my Pilates training for me to see the correlation between this and my writing. Sure, I know my body is capable of doing the difficult Pilates stuff (I used to be able to do some crazy shiz on a reformer), but do I really want to rush it and do it wrong? Do I really want to risk falling on my face or injuring myself and not being able to do it at all? Or do I want to take the time to build up my muscles and know that I’m confident in what I’m doing?
See where I’m going with this? 🙂
Clearly the last option is the best, but it’s really hard to see this when we have something we want to achieve so badly. I think that’s why it took stepping out of my writer cave for me to see it. I wanted to force the words, not work with them to make them as strong as possible.
I think this can be applied to anything you need to build upon in your life—relationships, healthy living, creative projects, business ventures, etc. You can’t rush things from start to finish. You have to take the time to really learn what you’re doing. The more you do it, the better it will become and the more likely you’ll be able to reach that goal you have in mind. I have to remind myself of this almost every time I sit down at my keyboard. That sentence will get better the more I work at it. That scene will become more intense if I can build up the scenes before it. If I rush it, it may not become the thing I want it to, the thing I need it to. It’s a gradual process that can be frustrating and take way longer than you want, but if you build it right it will be worth it.
So, the next time you feel yourself wondering why it’s taking you so long, or hating on yourself for not being done yet, remember: We don’t want to end up face planting into a mat, now do we?