The Apostle Paul said, famously, and this is my paraphrase, “I do what I don’t want to do, and I don’t do what I want to do.”
The Writers Life is chock-a-block full of examples of this lament.
Take me, for example.
I don’t blog.
I know, you’re reading this on a blog, and you’re thinking, “She doesn’t know what it means to blog, obviously.”
Allow me to repeat myself — I don’t blog. I don’t sign up to blog. I don’t read other people’s blogs. I don’t follow blogs. I don’t friend blogs.
And yet here I am, doing as I have done since January 2009 (Yes, I went back and checked), something I don’t want to do.
You might ask how that came about. Well, I missed a meeting. And got volun-told to blog.
Rule #1: Don’t miss a meeting. Missing meetings might get you doing something you don’t want to do, or you might miss out on doing something you really want to do.
And that leads me into Rule #2: Do what you don’t want to do because it’s not all about you. Sometimes your decision to participate is about others. See, this blog thing wasn’t about fulfilling some desire in my heart to have millions of people read what I write. This blog was about being part of something bigger than myself, and being able to contribute to that.
And, like I said earlier, writing is about doing what you don’t want to do.
I know people who say they are writers who never write; they just talk about writing. Maybe they get caught up in the research, or the outlining, or the plotting, or reading books on writing, or going to writers conferences. But they never actually start a story. Some of that is fear, some of it is a reluctance to put aside other activities and distractions, some is a lack of support or a lack of community.
Which brings me to Rule #3: If you are a writer, set a goal to write more than a list of books to get at the library or a schedule of conferences to attend this year. Write something that has a beginning, a middle, and an end. A story of some kind.
Rule #4: Find a community. Yes, that means join a writers group, find a critique group, join a book club — anything that will bring you into a bunch of like-minded people who get you when you say you hear voices in your head.
Many people who write seem reluctant to join into a community of writers. Maybe the reasons are the same as above: fear, busyness, feeling like they’re on the outside looking in. The only way to overcome fear is to jump in. The only way to overcome busyness is to make a date with yourself. The only way to not feel like you’re on the outside is to join.
One of my characters says about herself: You don’t join because you feel you don’t belong, and you don’t belong because you don’t join.
This month, as you read these blogs about Milestones, consider what leaps of faith you need to make in your own writing —
Do you need to join?
Do you need to meet?
Do you need to write?
And if the answer to any of these questions is Yes, then make your mark on your writing path and join, meet, and write. You’ll be glad you did, and so will all the others in your group.