“It’s the doing of work that makes work easier, the simple doing of work no matter how hard it may feel to begin.” ~ Julia Cameron, “The Sound of Paper”
Of course it’s true, what Cameron wrote. Yet I wish for magic, Kaboom! Kapow! instantaneous results from any effort put forth.
I dream of the day I wake up and words pour freely out of my head, I suddenly grasp depth of field and know how to perfectly operate all the settings on my camera, and I ride my bike effortlessly up a hill of slippery snow and zig zag through trees without holding my breath.
I look at other people’s work and this seems to be the case for THEM… All those THEMS out there are not working so hard.
Only if you talk to THEM, you discover that they have been working for years, probably their work has been rejected hundreds of times (if it’s the kind of work that relies on an audience) or if it’s a physical challenge, it’s something that took time. Along the way there were setbacks. You could even say that all those THEMS have tasted failure somewhere along the way.
But I believe failure only exists if you let others opinions or the difficulties you encounter discourage you and make you quit.
Overnight successes don’t exist. Perhaps there are “quick” successes, but I wonder if quick success is followed by quick obscurity. If you haven’t learned how to weather the storm and persevere, how can you possibly have the stamina required for staying power?
Success itself is a fickle thing. People are always looking for something fresh and new. You can never just sit back on your laurels* (whatever those are).
It’s not easy to resist throwing on the camouflage and hunting for approval and popularity. Today you can put something you created online in an instant and see how many “Likes” “Follows” “Retweets” “Favorites” and comments you can get. It can be like a drug, and you are the rat pressing the lever over and over.
I don’t want to be a rat pushing a lever. What I want are:
- Real connections with people
- To have my work in some way serve (not sure what that means… something like supporting others, providing helpful information, entertaining, etc.)
- To improve my writing and photography
- To enjoy the practice and process of what I’m doing
I listened to a podcast by Gabriela Pereira** called “Get Motivated and Get Writing.” One thing she said that especially stuck with me was a restatement of Isaac Newton’s theory that “Objects in motion tend to stay in motion. Objects at rest tend to stay at rest.”
In other words, it’s easier to finish something you are already working on. And once you start that work, it’s best to keep it going, no matter how small of a thing you do each day.
I’ve found this to be true. Even if I only have fifteen minutes to work on my book, I can open the files, maybe reread something I wrote, rearrange a few chapters, and I decide what comes next so I have direction when I return to my work the next day. Leaving the project with an idea of what I’ll work on tomorrow is a good way of letting my subconscious work on it while I’m offline.
It’s not that magic never happens. I sometimes sit down at my computer to find the next chapter is already in my head when I go to write it. But I’d never get to see such magic if I didn’t first show up. If I wasn’t willing to simply do the work.
*Of course I had to look up what laurels are. I thought they were a person’s thighs to tell the truth… They are trees whose leaves were used to make wreaths in ancient Greece, which were a symbol of victory and success.
**I highly recommend Gabriela Pereira’s website and podcasts for writers. Besides a bunch of great information, she also has this cool word prompt tool called Writer Igniter if you are struggling to come up with something to write about or need a good warm up session.