Shh, come closer.
I haven’t written a blog post in four months. The observant among you will have spotted that already.
This isn’t down to a lack of inspiration nor any artistic crisis of temperament.
Rather I have had a Christmas deadline on another writing project and so every ounce of creative energy was spent on getting that completed and delivered. And now that it is done I am back and able to tell you about it.
Are you ready?
I have written a story.
A beginning, middle and end.
And then I got it printed into a book to give to my nephews for Christmas.
The other part of the secret? I’ll just say this quietly.
I’m really proud of myself.
Oh not because it’s any kind of masterpiece. J.K Rowling can sleep soundly in her bed at night. Michael Morpurgo need not fear me snapping at his heals any time soon. The one copy that currently exists hasn’t even been proofread and is currently sporting several spelling mistakes.
No, the reason I am most pleased is because I got it DONE.
This was a self-imposed deadline and for me those are usually flexible affairs, all the more so if no one else knows they exist. But this was a story I wanted my nephews to hear, with lessons about kindness that I want them to learn, carry and practice throughout their lives. And once I was brave enough to crack open the lid just a little, to let some trusted friends see what was inside, their encouragement spurred me on to the finish. (Thank you Kirsty and Anna!)
But the main reason for me telling you about this now is not simply about explaining my absence from here, but rather because I feel galvanised at this annual time of setting goals and making resolutions because I now know that sometimes they actually happen. Sometimes you do finish what you start. Sometimes you can achieve what you thought was impossible. But for that to happen it takes three things – or at least it did for me.
Firstly it needs to become your priority. Whatever you want to achieve has to make its way much further up your list of things to do, and this means that other items on the list will have to take a lesser place. You can’t do everything and something’s got to give. For me, over the last few months, it’s been writing blog posts. I just didn’t have the creative energy to do both. At first I struggled with this but eventually made my peace with my priorities and cracked on with it.
Secondly you need encouragement. If you’re setting out to achieve something that feels daunting to you then you’re going to need some cheerleaders along the way. There may be times when you tire, moments when you doubt yourself and your ability to get across the line, days when you’re just fed up to the back teeth with the whole darned thing. Don’t stop. But make sure you’ve put a few people around you who will urge you on and keep you moving forward. They will be as much a part of you getting to the end as you are.
And thirdly, accept the fact that whatever you’re aiming for won’t be perfect, but better to get it finished than never have it see the light of day. My personal guide in this process has been Elizabeth Gilbert and her brilliant book Big Magic. On more than one occasion I came to a key paragraph or two at just the right time, none more so than a section called Done Is Better Than Good, the final few lines of which are as follows:
Because the truth of the matter is, most people don’t finish things! Look around you, the evidence is everywhere: People don’t finish. They begin ambitious projects with the best of intentions, but then they get stuck in a mire of insecurity and doubt and hairsplitting….and they stop.
So if you can just complete something – merely complete it! – you’re already miles ahead of the pack right there.
You may want your work to be perfect, in other words; I just want mine to be finished.
These words gave me the permission to take my eyes off my doubts and fears, and instead refocus on my original motivation and get the work DONE.
So what next?
365 days of possibility.
Plenty of time to achieve something if I set my mind to it.
If you set your mind to it.
There’s just one question – what shall we do?