I come across this motto not long ago. It has changed everything for me. I’ll confessed that I’m one of those persnickety people who likes things to be perfect, especially when it comes to my writing. I realize that this has kept me from fulfilling my dream. My fears get in the way, they help me to procrastinate and make excuses.
Are you like this too? Do you let perfection keep you from finishing or following through certain projects? Do you get frustrated and give up?
If so, you are in the right place at the right time and you need this as much as I do. Today I want to help you overcome your excuses and reach your goals.
Here three principles that can move you forward.
1. Start where you are.
For years, I let the fact that I didn’t have a college degree or formal writing instruction keep me from submitting anything. I believed the lie that without a degree, no one would take me seriously. Another lie I allowed to negatively influence me was something that my first college English instructor said. She told me I would never have a career in writing and failed me.
The next semester, I took English again with a new instructor. She read many of my essays to the class. She pulled me aside one day and told me that I had talent and needed to pursue it. I made an A in her class.
Two different opinions. Who should I believe? The first teacher was held in high esteem by everyone on campus. She was the authority when it came to English. The lie formed.
I have to please everyone to make it as a writer.
Maybe you feel the same way because you don’t have a degree or you aren’t receiving positive encouragement or feedback.
I’m here to tell you that you can succeed without a college degree and that you don’t have to please everyone. I should have made up my mind to believe the one teacher that was positive and leave the negative experiences and comments behind.
When I started writing, the internet didn’t exist. Computers were out of the question, I didn’t even have a manual typewriter. But I did have a library. I checked out as many books as I could on writing, studied them all and purchased notebooks to collect my thoughts, make lists of things that I could write about, ideas that were floating around in my imagination.
In other words, I started where I was.
My first published article was in a local newspaper about my family involvement in playing recreational soccer and how it was great for getting outdoors, getting plenty of exercise and being together as a family. That led to a series of articles that were published each Sunday in a special section called, Our Kids. After one article, I had my own column.
Well what do you know? I guess I can write. I was so tempted to write that college instructor a note and send her a copy of all the newspaper clippings.
That column led to writing about the community which led to covering local activities and events. Before I knew it, I was writing travel and destination articles for magazines.
I learned that you don’t have to be an expert, you don’t have to have a college degree but you do need a learning attitude. Being curious is a benefit. I learned to never allow myself to give up simply because things look overwhelming, aren’t working out perfectly, or more importantly because someone is negative. Don’t let something or someone stop you from following your dreams. The more you write, the better you will become.
The first rule in being successful as a writer, or in any area, is to start where you are and don’t listen to the critics, especially the ones in your head.
2. Use what you have.
I let myself believe at one point that I needed to have a Mac computer with MacSpeech to become a full time writer. No kidding! The lies we can sometimes believe are humorous.
I did purchase the Mac computer with all the bells and whistles that I thought I needed to have. But it didn’t magically write the book that was in my head. Next, I decided I needed to create my social media platform so that everyone would know that I was a writer. I spent more time building my “platform” than I did actually writing. So that was kind-of dumb.
Out of the blue, my “best of the best” computer crashed. I had no means of doing anything and I let that become an excuse too. After a couple weeks of feeling sorry for myself I realized that in order to keep producing, I needed to write. I picked up a notebook and did things the old school way. The next computer I purchased didn’t have all the bells and whistles. I realized that getting your thoughts out of your head and onto something, whether it’s a computer, a notebook, note cards, or even sticky posit notes is better than doing nothing.
Never let anything become an excuse to stop.
3. Do what you can.
After I was published in several magazines, I thought I had hit the lottery. But after a while, the publishers laid off hundreds of people and freelancers like me were no longer needed. Because my real dream had always been to write books, both fiction and non-fiction, I packed my bags and invested in several writing conferences. I subscribed to blogs, newsletters and joined a few Facebook groups. I even started my own writing group. New doors opened and opportunities poured in.
I started being very purposeful in using social media platforms to engage new clients. I took chances at new jobs, some I was very successful at, others were complete failures. But the more risks I took, the more my writing career expanded.
My blog began to have a niche market, I created a business Facebook page, I used good manners on social media and made new connections. I started sowing the seeds I wanted to reap instead of comparing myself to others and being jealous.
However, I stretched myself way to far. And guess what? No novel still.
It occurred to me that I needed to reevaluate my goals. I let myself believe another lie. I believed that I needed to take every job that came my way and that I needed to have low prices in order to keep jobs coming. My enjoyment of writing suffered and I was extremely overwhelmed by the thought of keeping all the social media platforms going, meeting deadlines and dealing with the business end of things.
I burnt out and writing was no longer a joy, it was a job that I was liking less and less.
Are you at a place where you have done everything that everyone has told you to do but you still don’t have any progress? Have you lost your joy? That was me.
Several months ago I realized that I didn’t need to worry about growing my audience anymore. I didn’t need to be on every social media channel out there and I didn’t need to read every newsletter, blog, book or magazine on how to grow my platform or how to write or how to market, I didn’t need to watch every free webinar that came my way. I needed to simplify and turn away some jobs, let go of some of the social media and give myself time to follow after my dreams.
I needed to find the joy in writing again.
Sometimes we can overload ourselves with too much information because we are afraid that we don’t have everything we need. We’re afraid that we’re not enough. We’re afraid that our dream may be to big for us to ever accomplish. So we give up, we compromise, we settle.
I know I have. But I’ve decided it’s time to move forward and stop making excuses. Today you can do the same. You can be just as determined as I am not to let any more excuses keep you from reaching your goal. So why don’t we both, together, make this declaration…
“From this day forward I will not make anymore excuses. I am going to start where I am, use what I have, and do what I can.”
My goal is to finish the story I’m working on now. I have multiple stories with research outlines, character sketches, setting sketches, everything you need to write a complete book. But I get to a point and stop… because I’m afraid.
I’m afraid that I don’t have what it takes to finish. I’m afraid that it won’t turn out the way I want it to. I’m afraid of what others may say or think. I’m tired of allowing lies to steal my future and keep me from my destiny. I’m tired of making excuses. I am tired of trying to make sure everything is perfect before I finish. This time I will not fail. I will follow through. I’m giving myself permission to let it be a mess, to not care what people think, to write it even if it’s for my eyes only.
What about you? What permissions do you need to give yourself today to move forward?
Don’t let another day go by, determine today to finish what you start and #NeverGiveUp.