Earlier this year, I had the privilege of chatting with a high school student who is interested in becoming a writer. And she reached out to me. What?! After we chatted, she invited me to come to her class and talk about what we deemed the Five Rules; the five must-haves you need as a writer.
But, these can be applicable to anyone who is creating. Whether it’s art or music or pottery. Putting yourself out there is hard. It’s scary. Nobody claps. Nobody cheers.
Our deepest fear isn’t rejection. Our deepest fear is that no one will notice — or even care. And yet, we do it anyway. We keep on creating. Because we have to. That’s how we breathe.
Here’s the catch: we don’t need talent, skill, money, expensive clothes. Nope. Instead, we need grit. And hard work. And persistence. But if you’re reading this, you already knew that.
Here are my Five Rules I carry with me on my journey.
DO THE NEXT RIGHT THING
It’s so easy to get caught up in steps 10, 11 and 12 that we don’t even take the first step. Do the next right thing. Often times for me, the next right thing has nothing to do with writing. Rather, it makes space for that practice.
For example, I do my best work between 8-10 pm, after the kids are in bed. But, if the house is a disaster (and let’s face it, with three kids under 5, I mean…), it’s hard to focus. So, the next right thing might be folding laundry. Or washing dishes. But, I’m making space for my practice later.
Does that make sense?
And when I do sit down and get to work, it probably won’t be earth-shattering, change-the-world type stuff right away, but at least I’m moving in the right direction.
This is hard for me. I get caught up with, “What will they think?” or “What if they think this is crap?” or “Who do I think I am working on this project?”
A friend of mine shared a quote with me that Michelle Obama told her assistant and director of special events during a time of self-doubt.
“You belong in places you’re finding yourself because you got yourself here. So if you’re hesitating because you don’t feel like you belong here, that’s you limiting yourself; that’s not reality. That’s a feeling; that feeling is not a fact.”
Fear and insecurity are not good motivators.
I recently heard Christian author, speaker and radio host Susie Larson speak. She said that when she started writing, she would hear these words in one ear: “You can’t write.” She said, “I know,” and kept writing. She said she still feels that way — after writing more than a dozen books.
We can choose to be scared. We can choose to stop and do nothing. Or we can choose to acknowledge the fear and do it anyway.
Angela Duckworth, author of the book Grit, says two things can predict achievement: grit and self-control. She describes grit as, “the tendency to sustain interest in and effort toward very long-term goals.”
Basically, you don’t give up. You want something so bad that even when you keep getting knocked down, you’ll keep getting back up.
KNOW YOUR WHY
Listen carefully to that small, still voice inside. What is it saying? That’s your Why. Your Why often gets buried under logistics and to-do lists and commitments. It won’t holler to get your attention or flag you down with a neon sign.
Instead, it whispers in the depths of your heart. That means, we have to slow down long enough to let it speak. And then choose to listen.
NOBODY WORKED HARDER TODAY THAN ME
I listened to this great podcast, Don’t Keep Your Day Job. A Disney animator wannabe from a young age, Saul Blinkoff, did everything he could to achieve his dream. Now a film director, he spoke about what it truly takes to see your dreams come to fruition. Every night he would tell himself, “Nobody worked harder today than me.”
For me, this often means writing for 15 minutes on a passion project. But, it’s 15 minutes that I wasn’t watching Netflix or zoning out on my phone. That day, I gave it everything I had.
What are your Five Rules?