In this post I am going to tell you to Just Do It.
This is despite the advice I’ve given my children that when someone is yelling “Do it! Do it! Do it!” and said person is holding a video camera, you should not do it (lessons learned from America’s Funniest Videos).
There are times when, if you think too much about something, you might not try it and, if you do, you’ll probably mess it up. In fact, there are many times like this.
Let me tell you about some in my recent memory:
(1) The horse I’ve been riding for several months now has some difficulties with her canter transitions. That is to say, she’s not very good at moving from one gait (trot) into the next gait (canter) and, when she does, she often takes the wrong lead (her front outside leg goes forward first instead of her front inside leg – getting this right is quite important for balance, etc.).
So, the other day our task was to ride a canter figure eight in the arena doing simple changes on the centre line. This means canter a circle in one direction (e.g. on the left lead) then, where the two circles connect, drop to a trot and pick up the canter to circle in the other direction, (e.g. on the right lead).
You can imagine it was highly unlikely Quinn was going to do this properly for me. Especially as we were to do it multiple times and she struggles with doing this once, with lots of space and nobody watching.
The thing is, I could have thought about it for a long time. Some might say I should have thought about it for a long time. Instead I just thought “let’s see what happens” and we went out and she nailed it. She picked up the canter quickly and on the correct lead every single time. All night. She has never done that before.
I was glad I had Just Done It.
(2) Skiing. So, I’m not going to pick one particular example but I will say if you stand at the top of a ski run for long enough – especially if said ski run is steep and / or has moguls on it – there’s a good chance you will either turn away and ski the green run beside it instead or, if you do tackle it, you will be so tentative and hesitant you will look like a complete dork while doing so.
I’m practicing just going. Not stopping on the lip and looking around and picking my route but seeing the lip ahead of me and skiing right over it while looking ahead for rocks and ice in the moment.
And, you know what, these runs aren’t perfect. I don’t make zero mistakes. But I have momentum and I keep going and I think I look like less of a dork than if I dithered for ages and then picked my way down and still made mistakes.
So, in other words, I’m finding Just Doing It is working for me.
(3) And now to writing. Of course. You knew it was coming didn’t you? Because if I think hard enough about it, I can wonder whether the next thing I write is going to be as good as the last thing I wrote. Or, I can question whether it’s really going to be possible for me to revise what I’ve written into something readable and understandable while retaining the essence of the story.
Think, think, think. Worry, wonder, worry. Dither and delay.
You can do all of the above or you can just do it. Just sit down and write it. Just open a new file and name it and start filling it up.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come to a point in a story where I’ve thought “now what?”. I’ve wondered if inspiration has completely deserted me. If that’s going to be the end of my creativity in this particular story and, by extrapolation, maybe in my writing life in general.
Then I sit down (it usually helps if I’m sitting down somewhere with no distractions and very few entertainment alternatives – the hallway in the church outside my sons’ Cubs meeting is a great example) and I start writing and many times – definitely often enough to make the exercise worthwhile – the story ends up moving forward and past the “stuck” point and sometimes even somewhere unexpected but kind of cool.
And I walk away with 500 or 700 or 1000 words written and, more important than that, I’m no longer stuck.
I can’t guarantee clients or editors or publishers that I’ll be perfect first time, every time. Can’t promise I’ll knock it out of the park first try. But I can promise I’ll deliver and I’ll do it on time and I’ll keep doing it. It’s called Just Doing It and anyone can do it. Really, anyone. Get up and go. Don’t think too much; just go. Start, and try, and keep moving, and follow your nose (and your heart) and don’t get bogged down and JUST DO IT my friends.