Don’t Just Dare to be Bold, Persist Being Bold! – Day 7

Dare to be bold by Matt Cheuvront

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

“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 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?

I feel like I already have been pursuing what I have always wanted to accomplish. I want to travel around the world. I want to inspire people through my stories and books. I want to have my financial freedom and the time to enjoy it.

In a way, I think I’m still a child. I tend to dream the impossible, and believe I could do anything I set my mind to. I do feel sometimes, that some people tried to shake it out of me to be more rational and adult-like. Maybe that was just my courage heart going into shrinking mode.

To be honest, to start pursuing the dream wasn’t that hard for me. I’m the impulsive type and the start was when the universe started aligning itself for the dream. Everyone supported me, I found a great community, and everything went in great flow. Perhaps it also helps that I have always been a headstrong person. I kind of know what I wanted all along, albeit rather vague, and I don’t think anybody could change my mind.

I think, looking back, I should’ve chugged more work out of me that time, at the start. Wrote a bajillion more words, send out my stuff to people. Who knows I could be lucky and landed myself a good publishing deal :D. Well, maybe not. But I certainly miss that naivety!

After some time struggling, I came to the middle part, the hardest. It’s the part where you have only seen a glimmer of hope of making it, but you’re not there yet. Self doubt is at the highest point. Will I ever make it? Is it all worth it? It’s one thing to never pursue your dream, but it’s another to pursue your dream and then thought of the possibility that you sucked big time.

What to do then? I won’t lie, the thought of going back to work in a comfortable IT job, where everyone thinks I’m good at and has a steady income, crosses my mind several time. Who, in their right mind, would choose to do something that put their soul for everyone else to see and judge? Certainly artists and entrepreneurs don’t have a right mind. Thankfully, neither do I.

Besides, I’ve burned that bridge already. The only time I will ever rebuild it and go back to a 9 to 5 job, is if it’s a matter of life and starvation. I told myself there’s no turning back. It’s do or die.

This is the test, the time when you really have to be bold. Not just for the first plunge, but to keep up with it, to keep going. This is the time when you must stand up for yourself.

Obstacles at the starting point:

  • Money. Even though being a starving artist is somewhat poetic, the reality isn’t. I found out that I worked better when I’m well fed. I have full support from the husband but I hate being a housewife.
  • Just do it! The adrenaline rush will take care of everything.

Obstacles at the half point:

  • Self doubt, other people’s doubt. Put on your headphones and listen only on positive thoughts. Hang out only with encouraging people. While critiques are beneficial for making myself a better writer, negativity isn’t.
  • Persistence. Has everything to do with self doubt. On the other hand, you will found out that pursuing your dream is the most rewarding thing ever. Stick to that feeling.
  • Fear of failure or fear of success. Either you’re too scared to finish and send out your manuscript, or, after listening to how much money some snobbish authors are making, you vowed to not to be like them (which includes the money making). Don’t think too much of this kinds of fear. It’ll just paralyze you and gave you an excuse to stay put (which is a sure way guarantee of shameful failure of doing nothing). Just deal with things at it comes. You’ll do fine.
  • Nothing ever changed. Perhaps true, but even water would only start to boil after you it reached a certain temperature. Think of what you do as giving the heat to water. It’ll eventually boil when you persist!

 

 

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

Yes, I borrowed the title from Haruki Murakami’s book. But I thought about it a lot when I went for a run yesterday.

I’ve mentioned something about my connection between doing sports and writing in a blog post last year: Persistence, Writing, and Sports. I’ve been running on and off since then, even managed to do it in winter as well (as long as it’s not icy and I’m not sick).

The reason I’m writing this is because I really felt the importance of trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Working on my own at home, with no colleagues to maintain your sanity and people who kept asking me, “Where is your published book? Haven’t you been working on it a LONG time already?”. Oh believe me I have my doubts too, you don’t have to put salt to the wound, okay?

Oops, enough rants, back to topic! I sometimes took being healthy for granted, I mean I AM thankful for it, but it’s not until I have some problems that I started to realize how important it was and how lucky I am to be blessed with a good health. And I’m not even talking about major problem, sometimes it’s just muscle ache from sitting down too long or some neck problem from having stiff shoulders (typing much?).

I had my doubts with running. I’m not really into running to start with. The only reason I was doing it, is because it’s easy and cheap. When you’re starting to be a writer there’s no way you could afford some fancy exercise like golf or even a daily trip to a swimming pool. I didn’t fancy going to the gym either. I spent my whole day inside, I wanted to do something where I get to be outside!

We were also quite lucky to live near a very nice park that’s just perfect for running. It wasn’t too crowded and it wasn’t too quiet (it creeps me out when there’s nobody around). There was a nice track going around the park and the dogs behaved nicely there (no random doggy poo on the track). Just perfect.

One thing that wasn’t so perfect is I didn’t think I was really built for running. During school, I’m already thankful when I’m not the last person on track. Being number three from the bottom is already an achievement for me. This haunted me so much when I wanted to start running… Who am I kidding here? I’ll be the most ridiculously slow person in the park!

Then again, it’s a park, not a running track. Which means (as I repeatedly said to myself) nobody knows how long have you been running, which track you took, and if someone overlapped me twice, it could be they took a different track. This last part might not been true, but it made me feel better ;). I learned not to care about what other people might think of me when I run. Or at least, I made up a good excuse not to care, because it could be frustrating when people older and heavier than you, are actually a lot faster (maybe they are regular runner!).

My point was, sometimes it actually doesn’t matter whether you’re good at it or not. What matters is you love to do it and be persistent. Last year, I couldn’t run for more than 1k, now I could run a 5k (albeit slowly). If you’re not comfortable in showing it off to people (a.k.a going for a competition) then don’t. Just do it for yourself, for your own health, it’s the most rewarding thing already.

As for me, I see running as a reflection of my writing. I started running around the same time I started to pursue writing seriously. I have a feeling, the day my novel hit the best seller list would also be the day I could run for a marathon.

 

Persistence, Writing, and Sports

One of my challenges in writing novels is to keep the persistence and motivation up. There are days when I just didn’t feel like doing it, or when I feel like I’m hitting a wall of “forever doomed unsuccessful”. Yeah, those are my dramatic moments.

I know that the key is to keep on doing it, and if I keep at it, I will prevail. That’s the big theme. But sometimes the big theme needs little steps, the small things that would keep me going each day. It’s like someone said to me, “If you walk straight from here in Berlin, you will get to Rome.” Even if I’m really certain he’s right, I would still need milestones. I need something to tell me that I am making progress.

Is there a way I could benchmark writing? I know some writers use word counts. Others clock the hours. But how would I know that I have progressed? That I have done the right thing? That I am actually writing better words than last time?

I don’t know yet. Maybe I will never be sure of it. Because I realized writing is an art, and there’s no sure way of telling if today’s work is better than yesterday’s.

Bummer.

But maybe… If I could do something else for benchmarking, then I could at least see the hope of progressing. What could I relate to writing?

I tried sports.

Why? The first reason is because I was a total klutz in sports. If I could progress in something that was that hopeless, then I could certainly progress in writing.

The second reason is because it is something I managed to do regularly for the past 3.5 years. I did home DVD pilates, yoga, and exergaming: eyetoy kinetic, wii fit, and ea active sports. I started 2 – 4 times a week, from half an hour to an hour per session.

In the first couple of months, I didn’t feel any difference. I didn’t lose any weight, my muscles still looked the same lame thing. I almost lost my patience.

But then things started to change. I started off stiff as a board; I couldn’t even touch my toes. I started to inch closer and closer to my toes, and after a year (or so) of pilates, I can (finally!) touch them.

I used to hate running, but in the last four weeks I decided to add jogging to my sports activity. Perhaps I got bitten by the spring bug? But I must say, I finally started to enjoy running too. And what I like even more: it’s easier to track my progress. And I did progress.

I feel it now. Every little thing helped me. Maybe I couldn’t feel it the next day (because I could only feel the muscle aches) , but I would definitely feel it in the next weeks. If I could bring myself to persist in sports, I could definitely persist in something I love too.

And so I continued writing. Inching towards my goal.