I devoured each chapter with rising excitement, but, sadly, I didn’t follow in his footsteps. I didn’t have negotiating experience, I hadn’t ever bartered for real estate, and hiring my own secretary when I was a secretary—highly unlikely. I was stopped by that little voice inside that said “I can’t do that.”
Throughout much of my life I’ve held back because of one excuse or another—I don’t know how, I’ve never done [something] before, I’m too shy, no one will listen to me, ad infinitum. I probably have hundreds of excuses, many of them borrowed from well-meaning friends and family. The problem with those excuses is that not only do they prevent me from doing what I want to do, they’re not real. They’re lies.
Now that’s a blatant statement, but it’s true. When I was growing up I was painfully shy. I didn’t speak to strangers. I didn’t know how to start conversations. I was the typical wallflower at social gatherings. Today my friends laugh at me when I say I’m shy. They see the real me now, not the holdover from the past that resides in my memories. And that’s just one example.
When I look at my writing—the twenty novels I’ve begun or the latest e-book idea—I often see failure in those attempts. I didn’t finish what I started. Having a history of uncompleted projects can drag down your self-esteem. But what if I chose to look at them differently?
Seasoned writers go through many drafts of a story or book before it’s deemed “good enough” to sell. Sometimes ideas are scrapped. Those authors don’t look at them like failures. They’re simply stepping stones to something better.
Every story is a writing experience that improves your craft. Every time you develop an idea you hone your skills. Practice leads to expertise, so by the time you’re on your twentieth story or your fiftieth one, you know where you’re going. The ones you may not have finished were your preliminary exercises. Like learning your ABCs. Not failures at all.
Today, “act as if” you’re a seasoned writer. Pretend you’re Stephen King or Nora Roberts or John Grisham or the author of your choice. Step into his or her persona and “feel” that writing magic. Dust off one of those old ideas, if it still calls to you. Finish that story or book you’ve been working on. Or try out something new. Every time you do this you retrain your mind and your thoughts.
Where have you been holding back? Are you ready to let go of your old excuses? Can you embrace “acting as if”?
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