A conversation I had this morning was the inspiration for this post. The conversation was about how when you have a goal for the future, what are the steps you do to get there? When it takes a long time to reach that goal, the process can start to weigh on you, and eventually you may find yourself, at worst, simply existing.
That was when the person I was having the conversation with pointed out that the only thing to do was to “Do What Is Before You”.
We were having a conversation about the broader aspects of our lives, but her point also made me think about writing.
When we are wanting to write a novel/story/script, we plan. Sometimes we make plans for things that are only relevant in the future. Like, designing the cover for a novel before a word of it was ever written. Planning what we would say in an author interview, without publishing anything. Concentrating on the end of the series, without ever writing the first book.
Thinking on these things aren’t bad in and of themselves. Really, they’re daydreams, and when we put effort into a daydream, sometimes we can make them real. This is healthy. It is healthy to have daydreams about what your future could look like.
But living in those future daydreams to the point where you ignore the present could be the killing blow to ever seeing them come into fruition.
So, what do you do? Do what is before you. If you haven’t written a word of that novel you spent hours designing the cover for, start writing. If you have a story or novel finished, and dream about what you would say in your author interview about your published work, send the work out to publishers. Or, perhaps, what is before you is actually the editing process. Then the querying.
Every process has steps, and the beauty of the concept of steps is that by accomplishing the step before you, you can then ascend to the next step. And so on.
In our conversation, we also discussed what procrastination really could be in our lives. Fear. Of failure, of dismissal, of making a mistake. But when you live in that fear, procrastination becomes more than just a phase, it becomes a lifestyle. Then your life comes to a standstill, constantly in waiting mode, in hesitation. And then you’re not living. Just simply existing.
Perhaps your entire life isn’t like this (I hope not), but even in certain areas of your life, procrastination and hesitation can become a millstone around your neck. Maybe your life isn’t at a standstill, but your writing is. Your art, your music, education, marriage, career, spiritual growth, health – what in your life is at a standstill that you need to breathe life into?
When you look at your goals, sometimes the process of reaching those goals can loom in your mind, and suddenly everything is too much. I want to be a published author. I want to write books that many readers enjoy. If I look at the entire process of reaching that goal, I could easily be overwhelmed to the point of giving up. Which is why, going forward, I will remember one simple thing.
Do what is before you.