I have a little black book. Since 1 July 2015, I’ve used it to track my workouts and weight. I can see the progress I’m making to improve my strength and endurance, and to (more recently) lose weight. Until yesterday, when I ran 21k, the last time I ran more than 15k was on 11 May. Shortly after that date, my hip started to bother me and I, involuntarily, reduced my running to heal. Taking the time to rest doesn’t come naturally to me. I like to be on the go, doing whatever I can to move my writing projects forward and to enjoy life. Be it a running injury or the common cold, things that sideline me — keep me from doing what I love — are inconvenient and irksome.
But now it’s back to normal. Sort of. As I’ve been easing back into my routine, or rather picking up the pieces, I’ve noticed something. I’ve had an unexpected, and unwanted visitor. Procrastination. It’s taken me a bit longer to get out the door running. Putting on a load of laundry, unloading the dishwasher or making a strawberry-rhubarb pie are quick tasks I decide to do just as I’m about to sit down at my desk to write. These things hamper my productivity. And, given my “5 Rules to Live By,” I should know better. When I let myself be distracted, I’m not focusing on the things that matter most. I’m not “fulfilling the highest, truest expression” of myself.
Why am I resisting the work?
Because I’m close to finishing something. A novel, actually. And if I take a few more steps forward, that means it’ll be out in the public domain for consumption. That’s always scary because I never know how it’ll be received. Will people like it? Will they hate it? Will it be a flop? I’ve given it my all and it’s a work I believe in. But that doesn’t stop me from imagining the worst. Still, I must keep moving forward. Why?
Finishing something reminds us as artists that we’ve shown up at the page, the easel, the piano, and dared to be faithful to who we are. We’ve succeeded at navigating through whatever hurdles that stood before us. Finishing something proves that we are resilient, and that we’ve taken to heart what Goethe told us: “Whatever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it. Action has magic, grace and power in it.”
I open my second black book, this one slightly bigger, and, flipping through the pages, I realize that over the past couple of months I’ve laid a lot of track. Despite what I’ve thought, I’ve made progress. Injury and illness haven’t kept things at a standstill. I look at my to-do list and at the top is “Finish Changes to Manuscript.”
It’s time to sit down and begin that which I believe I can do.
How close are you to finishing something? What obstacles do you feel are standing in your way? Let me know in the comments section below.
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