Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Week Eight-Lesson Eight: Don't Be Afraid To Finish What You've Started

My book is due to the publisher March 1st and to be honest, I'm scared and dragging my feet.

I've never been good with endings. I'm fantastic with ideas and getting the ball rolling, I slog through the process of seeing the ideas become reality, but when I get to the end or close to the end, I feel like my legs (or my fingers in this case) are heavily leaded. Every step (press of a key) feels weighty. At the end of any BIG project or event, I often go into either panic mode or avoidance mode. Thoughts like, "I don't know if I can finish this" or "I don't know if I can do this" swirl through my mind. Is there a phobia for that? A fear of finishing things? Does anyone know what it's called?

This isn't a new phobia for me. I've written about it before. I wrote about how I trained for a half marathon after college for weeks and weeks and weeks. I was prepared for the task at hand, but once I got close to the finish line I practically had to crawl over it. But the phobia goes back as far as early childhood. I was at a lake swimming in the "kiddie" section. If you wanted to swim out with the big kids, you had to pass a swim test. You had to swim out to a dock and turn around and swim back to the starting dock. I would say that the distance between the two docks was about the length of an average-sized swimming pool. I watched my sister do this with poise and grace. She swam effortlessly through the sparkling lake without a trace of exhaustion, pulled herself up on the starting dock and said, "Your turn!"

I hesitantly got into the water. I started off great. Nice even pace, clean strokes--I touched the dock and then pushed off with my feet out into the open water again. I could see my father and sister sitting on the starting dock. My father yelled, "C'mon, you are almost there!" And then everything got blurry. About a meter from the starting dock, I began to sink. I stuck my hand up in the air and the lifeguard dove in to rescue me and bring me safely up on the dock. I was humiliated. I am the older sister. Why couldn't I finish this easy swimming test? I wrote about this in a previous post and my sister commented and let me know that I did that test again and passed with flying colors. I don't remember that part.

So here I am again, a week before the finish line and I'm starting to sink. Or maybe I'm just coasting. Not sure. I woke up late, had a nice meal with my husband, took a walk, goofed around on the internet, read a few books for "research" and now I'm writing to you all on my blog and it's 4:12pm. Where did my day go?

What I've come to realize is that dreams are never quite like reality. It doesn't mean you shouldn't dream. You must dream. Just don't get stuck in the dream. Put a foundation under that dream of yours, otherwise what's the point? Dreaming and coming up with ideas are the easy part. Seeing your dreams through to the very END is the hard part. Why? Because when you dream about becoming an author or an actor or a painter or a musician or starting a business or changing careers or having a baby or getting married, the pictures of what this life looks like in your mind's eye are, well, dream-like. You don't imagine the baby screaming non-stop or the hours of writing with no human contact or the money issues or the lack of work or the economy crashing. Everything in your dream is rosy and cheery and maybe even....perfect!

But nothing is perfect. No one's life is perfect. I'm not a perfect writer. But I continue because I set this dream into motion. I put the foundations down. I asked for it and I got it and now I have to FINISH IT! And to be truthful, it's not as easy as I thought it would be. But I accept the good with the difficult and hard and crazy and uneasy and painful and uncertain. That's part of the whole package. It wouldn't be worth it if all I had to do was wave my magic wand and, BEHOLD! the book appeared. What would be the point of that? What makes a dream worthwhile is not just having a dream become reality, but what one has to go through to realize it.

So here I am at the end. I'm in avoidance mode. I'm afraid to finish. Maybe I'm afraid it's not good enough. I need another tweek here and another tweek there before it's perfect. But it is what it is and to be honest, I think it's pretty darn good. So with that, I'm going to take the bull by its horns and I'm going to face all my fears and I'm going to finish this thing. Yes, that's what I'm going to do. March 1st, I hear you calling and I promise I will deliver...

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Week Six-Lesson Six: Allow Yourself to Fully Procrastinate

Does procrastination=fear? I'm starting to think it must. Tell me what you think. For four days now I can't seem to do any work on my book. Yes, it is finished and that is SOMETHING. But there's editing to finish up, fine tuning to take care of and a deadline of MARCH 1ST to meet. Yikes!

I seem to be perfectly capable of doing everything BUT work on my book. I'm perfectly fine with house cleaning, shopping, visiting with friends, going to my day job, exercising, hiking, doodling, day dreaming, twittering, Facebooking, sleeping and eating.

What happened? Whenever I think of THE BOOK I want to run for the hills. Is this what happens to writers? It reminds me of the time I trained for a half-marathon. I was fine with all the "getting ready for the race" part, but fell apart right before the finish line and had to practically crawl over it.

Maybe I'm frozen with fear. Maybe it's a fear of what others will think of me when it finally hits the bookshelves. Or maybe it's the complete opposite.

Have I been celebrating too much and daydreaming of that day when it finally goes to print? Have I chosen to look at the bigger picture instead of focusing on what is happening right here, right now?

I have no idea. So what am I going to do?

I'm going to accept it. I've decided that I'm going to allow myself to FULLY PROCRASTINATE. I'll doodle and dilly dally until there's no more doodling and dilly dallying left in me.

Don't worry. I have a conscience and I'm not crazy. I will do what needs to be done. I'm just going to take my own sweet time and there's no fighting it. But I WILL keep my deadline because I always keep my promises and stick to my commitments, as you all know from reading my 365 blog posts for 2010.

So if you are procrastinating right now, don't berate yourself. It doesn't help the situation. Let yourself procrastinate FULLY. Enjoy it, accept it, live it, love it.

And then GET BACK TO WORK....

(I'm signing off now! Going to go have a nice hot cup of tea and bubble bath ^_^! he, he!)

NOTE: As long as you continue to move forward in a positive direction and do what needs to be done, nothing wrong with a little procrastination. However, if you are a chronic procrastinator and can't seem to do anything, there are plenty of resources online to help with that! Trust me, I procrastinated and read quite a bit of it ^_^!