Finding my mojo has been a big challenge for me after being made redundant. As I am sure it has been for many people who face re-inventing themselves. I keep getting caught up in the learning process when in reality, now, I need to stop researching and start writing.
So here are a few key points to remember when you get sidetracked by the learning and forget to get on with the doing.
Start anywhere, but please just start
I have found the hardest part of my writing journey has been getting started.
I have this incredible desire to learn things, and I love the process. We should all embrace learning, it is essential for personal growth and enjoyment of life.
But, we can easily get bogged down in the ‘how to’ part of it and forget to move onto the ‘doing’ part of it.
Eventually you need to start applying the things you are learning and that is where it can get tricky.
I am notorious for my perfectionism, it is my curse. You know what I mean, I can never quite agree with myself that what I am working on is finished, that it is good enough to put out there.
Perfectionism is the biggest barrier to my personal development and my success in life, whatever the challenge of the time has been. So I get caught in the learning and researching cycle.
I have written about this before, about the way perfectionism influences our productivity. About how anti productive it can be, but also how amazing it can be when it is channelled appropriately.
After all if you can control perfectionism it is going to ensure you pump out work that is at the highest level.
And who doesn’t want that?
So where do you draw the line?
How do you make that distinction between obsessive perfectionism creating procrastination, and harnessing your perfectionism to help you create masterpieces?
When do you start acting on your learning and start writing.
My guess is right now. Today.
Now I am no expert, I am not a psychiatrist; I am a writer, and a new one at that.
But I am no spring chicken either. So as much as I have a plethora of inhibitive self talk going on in my over crowded head, I have many years of understanding what it is that holds me back, even if I have never overcome them.
So here is my advise to you even if I am not yet practising what I preach:
Apply your writing skills
By all means learn new things. But make sure that while you are learning you are applying your new skills. And I mean right from the beginning.
Don’t sit around reading about what to do and then reading some more, and then reading some more.
Read how to do something then put it into action straight away.
Let’s take writing as an example, given that it is what I am trying to break into:
I started by reading blogs and looking at how they were structured compared to books or other print medium.
You will notice blog layout is totally different. The paragraphs only contain two to 3 short sentences at most. And the paragraph is usually no longer than 120 characters.
Blog structure is an easy thing to read about and apply immediately.
But what about content?
I am sure you have all read articles that blow your mind. Articles that make you sit up and think, that leave you desperate to comment or take action in some way.
Now I am equally certain that you have read just as many articles where after the second paragraph you either closed the article or just out of curiosity and hope,you kept reading, hopeful that perhaps the copy would improve as it went on. Usually it doesn’t.
Now I know which type of writer I want to be.
I am sure you do too. I mean who wants to be know as the guy/gal who writes shit copy.
So with our fear of being ‘that guy’ we go back to the reading, and reading, and reading, and researching, and reading.
And we don’t quite get around to writing that amazing article that we dreamed of.
That is because to be that first writer; to be ‘Mrs Amazing”; to be that person who really ‘gets what is going down’, who you really connected with; you have to write shit first.
OK, maybe you are a naturally gifted writer. If that is the case you probably aren’t reading this article anyway. You’ve already ‘got it going on’. Good for you. 🙂 (check your mums attic I bet it wasn’t all amazing in the beginning) 🙂
But the rest of us need to start somewhere and hone our craft. That usually begins with articles that to be blunt, are shit.
But that doesn’t mean you should give up.
No way Jose.
It means you are learning and you are honing your skills.
It means you have to write MORE.
This is your trade
Any tradesman starts out as an apprentice.
The very first item made at tech school usually is cherished by the parents and stored lovingly in the attic, but in reality it is pretty bloody crappy.
So what I say? It is part of the process!
Writing is no different. As much as it is a craft or art; it is a trade.
So consider yourself in an apprenticeship.
Now I know that as an apprentice you don’t spend all your time learning from books, quite the opposite. You usually spend one week out of 8, or less, at TAFE (technical college) book learning.
The rest of the time is spent learning on the job. Practising and fine tuning your newly developing skills.
I know this is how it was for me when I was doing my Painting and Decorating apprenticeship.
Writing is just the same. You need to practice your skills. You need to write everyday. And you need to share it. If you don’t share it you won’t get feedback and you won’t learn.
As Ernest Hemingway put it:
So take the plunge.
Become the best apprentice you can be and apply your learning everyday.
So, now, I think it’s about time I start listening to my own advice. 🙂
I hope the apprentice analogy helps you in some way.
Until next time.