The trick to anything is simply doing, whether you do it wrong, ace it, struggle but eventually succeed or even try it, realise it doesn’t work and change tact. The fact of the matter is that you did it. When it comes to many projects, creative, business plans or career plans etc. far too many people forget the important bit is doing.
In my experience as a writer, I’ve found myself bogged down with details. From having the right ‘work space’ the right ‘work ethic’ to spending hours trying to figure out how it should all be done because I want to get everything just so and perfect.
Years ago I read a book by author Walter Mosley, he addressed this very problem. A lot of people rely on superstition, luck and habit. They try to imitate the greats in their field but give up because it simply doesn’t work for them. What Mosley says is to stop believing you need the right anything and just do it. He sits down every day for 1 hour and writes. It doesn’t have to be good, doesn’t have to make sense or fit with the project he’s currently grappling with. Just 1 hour to write, whether he leaves his desk with 1000 words or 50, he did it.
This is a habit I’m developing, although my mind has about 50 projects I’d love to sink my teeth into at the moment. Every night I sit and I write. Doesn’t matter the subject, doesn’t matter if by the next day I’ll delete it all and start over. I’m writing again and I haven’t been able to do that for months.
Although this might sound contradictory to what I just said, which is don’t get sucked into imitating the greats, I disagree because I’m not imitating Mosley. I took his suggestion, write for 1 hour every day, and I adapted it to fit me. I sit down in my pyjamas every night, music playing and a blank page or some old project in front of me and I work on it.
Mosley wrote that he prefers to write in the mornings, before everything else begins, to get up and spend the first hour of the day writing. I tried and it just didn’t work for me. My days are occupied with something up until 9pm when my dog is walked one last time, fed and sleeping, my family are in their respective bubbles and I’m free to work without distraction.
Splitting hairs, I know, but it’s true.
Look at how the greats, the writers, artists, musicians, businessmen and women have done it. But then take their lessons and adapt them to your life. You might like the busy environment of a café or coffee shop, or need absolute silence.
Big projects are hard, they take a lot of time, concentration and belief in your abilities to see them through to fruition. Regardless of whether you tackle it head on, break it into smaller pieces, it’s all the same and it can be tiring. Especially when it seems you’ll only ever hit roadblock after roadblock on the journey.
Adapt the good habits of those you admire to fit your life. Don’t give up and keep pushing. Anything worth having doesn’t come easy. My manuscript has been rejected 5 times already, it gets disheartening and I’ve had moments of doubt about my writing and whether this story I’ve poured years of my life into is actually as good as I think. But, I remember that literary agencies are just businesses, they look for the quick buck. The client that will make them more money and notoriety the fastest out of 1,000 hopefuls.
It’s nothing personal, find someone else and try. You’ll get there.