Some people devote their entire lives to finding a cure for cancer. Some spend their lives looking for true love. For others, self-fulfillment is a lifelong goal.
The Holy Grail. The fountain of youth. The One Ring. Whatever the object, the quest for something larger than ourselves is what drives human civilization forward and separates us spiritually and intellectually from the animals.
Yeah, yeah. Blah, blah, blah.
For me, I’m afraid, the goal is far more simple. At least it should be. I’d just like to finish Chapter 2.
Time to break the pattern
You see, it’s no problem for me, when inspiration nudges me toward yet another not-too-shabby book idea, to knock out Chapter 1. I have a long and impressive history of producing butt-kicking, attention-grabbing, spine-tingling first chapters. At last count, I had six Chapters One for various books that never made it to Chapter 2.
Well, it’s time to break the pattern. Today I started working on Chapter 2 of the seventh pretty decent book idea that, come hell or high water, I am going to finish. Now. This summer.
And this time I’m pulling out all the stops, looking at every possible angle, studying every obstacle. And what I’ve discovered, as I think about all the distractions that have prevented me from forging ahead into the rest of whatever book I’ve started, is that my biggest obstacle is me, and how I always manage to get in my own way.
I have met the enemy …
I might call it something else. The dishes piled up in the sink. The papers that need to be graded. Serious questions about whether this is really going to be a marketable idea and, even if I succeed in landing an agent, who’s to say anyone will want to read it?
The reality is, those are all obstacles of my own making. I even understand the basic underlying principle here. If I never really make a serious effort, then I’ll never have to face the painful possibility that my best just wasn’t good enough.
No one has to tell me that this is the classic definition of failure. I already know from firsthand experience that the only regrets I have ever had in life are about the things I didn’t do. They’re never about the things I did do … even when those things didn’t work out as I’d hoped.
I know, too, that by sending myself my own rejection slips before I even get started, I am making sure no one else beats me to it. Unfortunately, in so doing I am also ruling out the possibility that somebody might be interested enough to take a chance on me. And that maybe somebody else–and maybe a lot of somebody elses–might actually be glad I made the effort.
Tell me what you think
Sound familiar? If so, I’d like to hear your thoughts. Please respond in the comments below and tell me what stops you from pushing through your own negative self-talk. And, tell me what tricks you use to get past it. I’m looking for some good ideas, and there’s a good chance I’m going to try try some of your suggestions. If I do, I’ll write about it here and tell you how it worked out.
So there’s my challenge for my fellow authors out there. What does your negative self-talk look and sound like? What do you do to get past it?