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.
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.