Throwing Out Pitches

Sometimes I get bogged down by the amount of advice that I consume on the internet. It feels like a weight that presses down on me. I get advice and I can immediately see where I can use it to improve, but then there’s more advice coming at me, and I start to lose my grip. Maybe it’s less like a weight pressing down on me than a conveyer belt bringing along fresh products that need to be put into a box quickly. I lose control of my rhythm because I get confused and I start stuffing information into my mouth to make it disappear because I can’t think of where else it can go. Then my brain shuts down.

Lucille in the Chocolate Factory. She knows what's up.

Lucille in the Chocolate Factory. She knows what’s up.

Can not compute.

I know I have a lot of stuff to learn about this whole writing business. I don’t want to get bogged down by all of this advice, though. It stalls me. It makes me think that I’m no good at what I do. It makes me forget all of the progress that I’ve made.

Lately I’ve learned to be more patient. A lot of my stalling out happened because I wasn’t patient. And I think part of this comes from the overload of information I would give myself. I would spend a day mindlessly consuming information and I would be left with a whole lot of confusion at the end of hte day because all of that advice came with actionables and I didn’t know what to turn to first. Which actionable should I do? To the point where I wouldn’t know what to write about anymore.

So I’ve been more mindful of that lately. I want to succeed and I’m understanding now that, while advice is good, it’s the getting shit done part that actually makes things happen. To that end, I use my time in different ways now. I’m mindful about it. When I decide I want to do something for a set amount of time, I set my mind to that task and that task alone (with the occasional Facebook or Twitter break, of course. Come on, I’m only human.)

It took me a long time to realize this is how I need to work to get shit done. And thus far it’s proven a good method. For instance, I’ve written over 12,000 words in my novel thanks to this method. I set a goal of 500 words for myself. And just recently I decided that this would be a daily goal. Instead of waking up each morning with a cup of coffee and an hour on Facebook (please don’t judge me) I’d wake up with a cup of coffee and a half hour on Facebook, followed by 500 words. I’d been stalling on the book lately because I haven’t been making it a priority and I want to complete this book. I realized though that I wasn’t giving it enough of a priority on my to-do list. It was there, but it was often at the bottom of the list and it was rarely crossed off. That and updating my mailing address on my credit card; these were two tasks that I just keep putting off and having to write them each time my to-do list gets too full and I need to write a new one. Now it’s going to get crossed off each time I write a to-do list and then I’m going to write it back on because it’s a daily task. It’s not a once-in-a-while task. The mailing address thing, I’ll get to it eventually.

Back to the pitches. Seeking advice used to be a task that I would spend mindless hours on and I would quickly get bogged down by my desire to learn. I can’t do that anymore. If I want to learn from these experts, I need to do it the same way that I do my other tasks: mindfully. If I want to read articles, I will put them on my to-do list and cross them off when they’re done. And while I’m reading them, I’ll take notes of what I want to learn from them. And then I’ll use that information in the most useful way I can. I have to stop mindlessly searching for advice like that. And I know it’s hard. Half of my Twitter feed is advice for writers, but I can ignore it or save it for later when I know I’ve got the time and energy to read it.

At the end of the day it just comes down to time. How much time do I have to devote to learning versus time I have to devote to the actual task at hand? Right now I’ve got a good amount of time I can dedicate to my career. I have a boyfriend and a good social circle of friends. I don’t have a child, though, which is the number one factor that will cut my time in half (or even a third). A lot of my friends are having children right now. It seems a week doesn’t goes by that I don’t hear about someone having a baby. It’s made me think a lot about my own desires to have children and how they’ll impact my desires for my career. Yes, I want kids. Yes, I get pangs when I hear about others having babies. No, I wouldn’t rather trade places. I’m glad I have this time. I need this time and I’ll use it to learn and do. Because who knows how long I’ll have this time for and if i don’t use it wisely, it’ll be time that I’ll never get back.

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