It’s like this dream that haunts you in the middle of the night, when the more pressing concerns of your day-to-day life have calmed down. To have the potential to create something truly great and unique to you, it can be a cruel burden to bear. This article will detail my process of keeping my feet moving towards my dream.
I could recognize that I had a knack for writing,. If financial security was not a factor, I would have been able to say that a dream career would have been in the writing field. Maybe even journalism. Writing was a good outlet for me.
What I was, was a walking nervous breakdown with a penchant for black-out drinking and couch-wetting. Discipline was a dirty word and nothing lay beyond that glorious explosion of instant gratification. When I got sober (and the perpetually dry couch had lost its ‘wow!’ factor), I wanted to live.
Inspiration would eventually strike me like a fist to write a book. I got to work, and then…nothing. A folder with dog-eared pieces of notebook paper curling around the edges (where I kept my rough-draft pages) sat in the corner of my bedroom. It put a bad taste in my mouth every time I saw it. It was like the folder had contempt for me in its very fibers, and I felt myself a worthy recipient. Soon, I got myself into silly predicaments with women at AA meetings, frustrations of my own making at work, and general imbalance of mood.
Because I was becoming bored.
I remember when the idea to write a book lit me up like I was born again, and now I’m being taunted by a green folder with edges of paper spilling out of the end of it. How would I reclaim what I thought I was worth?
Preciousness and the Unbirth of Anything Real
Commonly enough, I had fallen victim to, what Steven Pressfield would call, preciousness (By the way, I highly recommend his book The War of Art for any aspiring writer. It was much needed gasoline for me.). I was hung up on the identity of the writer, the artist granted the gift. I waited for more inspiration to spill from the mountaintops onto to me, to steal me away from hourly pay and make me an instant success.
And there the folder sat. What I needed to do was show up for myself, to show up for what burns in me.
“Find what you love, and let it kill you.” – Charles Bukowski
I had been distracted by staying comfortable and safe. I remember the fear that shrank the walls in around me as I grabbed that awful folder off the floor. I remember my chest tightening up on my first attempt to organize those rough-draft pages into some semblance of a coherent mess. What the hell have I gotten myself into?
But results did come.
Eventually. It took a few attempts. I had thrown the folder back into the corner initially. The mocking pages began to speak. But I did finally get those pages divided into chronological sections. With that, I began to formulate how I could fill the spaces, and I got an idea for where to take my story next. It was a weight off my shoulders, to say the least. A good start, but the effort to finish the book had appeared too monumental, and writing was little more than a hobby to me.
I needed to make a decision.
I needed to tell myself, “This is what you are going to do. You have a dream, and you are going to put in the work that is required. One day at a time, just like sobering up.”
I started writing everyday. As mentioned, I read Steven Pressfield’s book. The book taught me how to recognize the myriad excuses against writing that will arise. I started taking writing courses at a literary center that my city of Minneapolis is blessed enough to have. I started seeking feedback, asking for help. Just like sobering up.
Writing as now evolved for me. From a cute little self-image to a hobby to a lifestyle. It’s become a journey. I put resources…time, energy, money…into the journey and I don’t have a clue as to where the hell it’s going, and that’s just fine by me.
Inspiration can come as it pleases, but it’s unaided occurrence is too seldom. I found that I need to show up at the altar of the keyboard daily, and the inspiration comes. I have a full-time day job, bills, a girlfriend, and a body to take care of…but I make time every day to take a step on the journey.
So…I challenge you. You’re a dreamer, an artist, a writer like me maybe. Start putting in the work. You may already be letting your feet do the talking, and I commend you for that. Keep going, through the good days, the bad days, the lack of motivation, the lack of inspiration…it’s all secondary bullshit. Show up for yourself.
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