Are You Closer to Death Than You Are to Your Dream?

Are You Closer to Death Than You Are to Your Dream?

I’m my own worst enemy. I procrastinate, get lazy and I over think just about everything. I tend to self sabotage, being critical of every line of prose I create; typing delete before my words ever see the light of day. I can admit it now-I am the reason I am not a best selling author.

Sure there are truck loads of shitty authors taking up valuable shelf space in Barnes & Noble. But it’s not their fault my book isn’t finished. I can’t blame this on my husband, or my four kids who don’t seem to understand what Mom’s quiet time means. I have been the thing standing in my own way.

It’s taken a series of personal challenges lately to help me understand how much I’ve been squandering my gift. I’ve always had this haunting feeling like my time on Earth was limited, but the idea that I don’t actually have forever to write a novel is finally starting to sink in. And every single day that I am not moving closer to being a published author, I realize I Ar

Here are three things you can do to get out of your own way:

1. Put yourself on blast…in essence, telling other people (strangers, co workers and your friends on Facebook) that you are a writer makes it real. They may not tell you to your face, but they will be watching you, rooting for you and will be looking to see if you deliver.

2. Make a list of goals, and do something tangible towards those goals everyday. I started the year with dozens of things I wanted to get accomplished, highlighting the tasks I completed in green. Looking at this list every day and seeing green makes me feel productive.

3. Make your publishing goals relative. Telling yourself that you are writing the next Great American Novel is a lot of pressure. The anxiety that builds up from putting that kind of weight on your writing will make you want to do absolutely nothing. So I write like no one will ever hear a word of it.

Think about how much time you have left on this planet. You’re either countable steps towards achieving your dreams, or you are closer to the end of a life marred by dreams deferred.

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Shut Up Fear…3 Ways to Silence Fear…Right Now

I write a lot about fear. I’m not ashamed to admit that I spend a lot of time trying to climb over, jump on top of and trying to down right annihilate my fears. I had a dream the other night that I was on a subway in Hong Kong (does Hong Kong even have subways?)  I was looking for sushi. And I was alone. Normally, I’d wake up from a dream like that feeling anxious with palpatations and sweaty palms. Because of my low vision I hate being in foreign places. And I hate the slightest smell of raw, fishy creatures.

But this time, I woke up smiling, thinking “maybe this means I’m going to Hong Kong one day”. Okay, so maybe not Hong Kong. Maybe this means I’ll get that writing workshop in Fort. Lauderdale, and I’ll have the chance to go alone. Or maybe dreaming about fish means somebody I know is pregnant. I don’t know.

What I do know, is that as writers, we have to constantly be looking for ways to use our fears as tools to sharpen us for success. Because we are afraid of almost everything (sharing our work, being criticized, rejected, or considered a failure) we’ve got to use fear as the fuel that gets us to the other side.

Here are three things you can do right now to turn your fear into fuel:

1. Think about three things you most fear (ie. getting a rejection letter, getting a bad review or not ever selling books), then do something in direct response to that fear.

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time, right? Conquer your fear in bites. Send out a query, just to get the rejection letter and get it over with. (Maybe you’ll surprise yourself and not get rejected. Maybe not.)

2. Pretend there is no one watching.

Fear is a figment of our imagination. We tend to believe that there is a mysterious group of bystanders watching our every move. Sometimes we are afraid to try things because we think “they” are watching. If you’re a writer, you’ve got to write like no one will ever read a single word you write (let’s hope that doesn’t really happen.) There are no critics. No naysayers. Just you and your words. And watch that fear of not being good enough slip away.

3. Convince the Universe that fear is a liar.

Make your actions suggest your fears are irrational. If you listen to the whispers your fear gives you, it wins. By telling fear to shut the heck up, and pushing it out of the way, you give fear less and less power until it puts its tail between its legs and goes home. If I go to that strange place and no one sneaks up and murders me, lucky me. But if I never leave the house in anticipation of something bad happening to me I lose. Big time.

Think about what fears you want to silence. And the next time fear tries to whisper in your ear, tell it to shut the heck up.

 

 

Love Letter to Future Me…

I just started following Happy Black Woman’s 31 Day’s to Reset Your Life Series. There are 31 days of exercises meant to help you  focus and evaluate your goals in an effort to help you live a better life in 2012 and beyond. Today’s exercise really struck a chord with me, as it allowed participants to write love letters to themselves via FutureMe.org. With this site, you can send yourself a letter to anytime in the future. While beginning with a letter set to be delivered in 30 days, I added one for my 30th birthday and for one five years from now.

In thinking about what I want to say to Future Racheal, I thought about things that I’m working on now, habits I don’t want to have in the future, and things I better be doing in the future. It makes me kind of anxious to think that some time five years from now, I’ll be getting an email from myself, checking on me to make sure I’ve been making the right choices. I’m curious to find out how my writing will have developed, and how many publishing credits to my name?

In realizing that I don’t want to disappoint my future self, it dawned on me that I shouldn’t want to disappoint today’s me. This means I’ve got to get to the business of making good choices NOW. Otherwise, I’m gonna have nobody to blame if when that email comes, I’m no closer to achieving my dreams than I am today.

If you wrote a letter to your future self, what would you write? Leave a comment and tell me about it!