To Boldly Go. . .

Ralph Waldo Emerson is the source of inspiration for a new 30-day writing challenge. You can read more about it and sign up yourself here.

What Ralph Says

Our arts, our occupations, our marriages, our religion, we have not chosen, but society has chosen for us. We are parlour soldiers. We shun the rugged battle of fate, where strength is born. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

What Steven Says

Next to Resistance, rational thought is the artist or entrepreneurs worst enemy. Bad things happen when we employ rational thought, because rational thought comes from the ego. Instead, we want to work from the Self, that is, from instinct and intuition, from the unconscious.

A child has no trouble believing the unbelievable, nor does the genius or the madman. Its only you and I, with our big brains and our tiny hearts, who doubt and overthink and hesitate. – Steven Pressfield, “Do the Work”

The Prompt

Courtesy of Matt Cheuvront

The idea of “being realistic” holds all of us back. From starting a business or quitting a job to dating someone who may not be our type or moving to a new place – getting “real” often means putting your dreams on hold

Today, let’s take a step away from rational thought and dare to be bold. What’s one thing you’ve always wanted to accomplish but have been afraid to pursue? Write it down. Also write down the obstacles in your way of reaching your goal. Finally, write down a tangible plan to overcome each obstacle.

The only thing left is to, you know, actually go make it happen. What are you waiting for?

My Response

The Thing

What one bold thing do I want to do? Write a novel. Almost since I was able to read, I’ve wanted to write. I actually wrote a short story (that I thought of as a “book”) for my Dad once, based on “Star Trek the Next Generation.”

Before that, I wrote a “Little House on the Prairie”-type “book” that my mom helped me self-publish and sell at a local bookstore. Then I stopped, because I found a new love: theatre.

Theatre became my life and writing, aside from journalling and classwork, became a thing of the past. I never completely shelved the dream of writing a novel, though, and for the last couple of years it’s been knocking louder and louder at my door. Perhaps it’s time to invite it in for a cup of tea.

The Obstacles

There always have to be obstacles, right? As is pointed out in the quotes and prompt, reality has a way of squelching dreams that can becomes not just acceptable, but the norm. Getting away from the rational has been on my mind lately, and I think rationality and practicality and reality, even, are highly overrated. The first step is to become aware, so here’s what’s squelching my dream:

  • Lack of ideas
  • Lack of skill
  • Lack of know-how
  • Lack of experience
  • Guilt that my time should be spent helping others instead
  • Time
  • Money

The Plan

How can I overcome them? One at a time, and with a curious scientist approach.

Lack of ideas: I don’t really think I have a lack of ideas, I think I’ve just turned the faucet off to focus on other things, so that one can be overcome by turning the water back on. Hey, Muse, remember me?

Lack of skill: While I by no means think I’m a dormant genius of an author, writing was my first love and something I’ve always been good at; the only way to get better is to do it. Scientist says: this is really just another form of procrastination; remember that “perfect is the enemy if the good.”

Lack of know-how: I can overcome lack of know-how easily, there’s plenty of information out there (and I already know several good sources), the danger is really getting caught up in learning without actually doing.

Lack of experience: Experience just needs to come one day at a time, and while it’s not the same thing, all the reading I do is bound to help. Scientist says: play around with this. Try writing for different periods of time as well as different methods of writing.

Guilt that my time should be spent helping others instead: Ah, the guilt of thinking it’s selfish to write. Thinking of how grateful I am for all of the books I’ve read and the people who have written them helps. Also reminding myself that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. I can be of service in many ways, and who am I to tell God I’m only a one-trick pony?

Time: Time, well, that’s really just an excuse. I can find time to write and already an idea is forming for how to do this. Scientist says: I’m working on a way to bend the rules of time for you, but in the end it wouldn’t really matter. Remember the magic that is momentum.

Money: Well, maybe I’ll write a best-seller and make a huge career out of it but even if I win that lottery, my payday is a few years off. Good thing I’m not really in it for the money. It’s more important to me to just do it for the sake of it, and if other people want to join in, awesome.

Of course, I have hung my shingle out as a wordsmith, which takes care of some of those pesky living expenses. I refuse to be a starving artist.

What Am I Waiting For?

The right time, of course! Hahahahaha. Somehow, the calendar never seems to reach that elusive point in time that is right. The scientist says: it’s actually a riddle, and the answer is always “now.” I think I detect a hint of smartypants smugness, scientist, but I know you’re right.

Which brings us to that idea I had earlier. I’m going to pretend I’m a writer for the summer. I can design a workshop where I spend time studying, writing short stories, researching and outlining my book; maybe I’ll even be ready to do the NaNoWriMo in November. Ooooh, I’m getting that tingly, excited feeling that a good idea always inspires.

Guess what tomorrow is? It’s time for a Play Date–perfect for fleshing out this new idea.

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Where are you going to boldly go?

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