Are You Stuck on the Sideline?

Sideline Pass

Sideline Pass (Photo credit: jfravel)

I enjoy writing and I’ve had a story rolling around in my head for a while now. I would say “book” but that word just really sounds enormous and scary, so I’ll stick with story. I was recently challenged at a business seminar to just write it. (Or, you know, start.) In fact, the challenge was followed up with, “I’d like a date I will be reading some pages of your book.” Oh, sure. That will be easy. I mean, I have an idea. I’ve been thinking about my characters. I know the tragic fate of at least one of them. How hard could it be?

I got all comfy in my bed with my laptop. Pillows arranged just right so my legs wouldn’t be set on fire from the heat of my computer. (I’m pretty sure this is the same method that all the best-selling authors use.) I started typing. The opening sentence had been on the tip of my tongue (or fingers, as it were) for weeks. I typed that fantastic sentence and it indeed looked as beautiful and tragic on paper as it did in my head. It was the following sentence I had trouble with. And you know, all the ones that came after that.

I ended up typing out about five pages. It amounted to 1700 or so words. Then I started questioning everything. I was writing in a narrative voice, but maybe I should do first person instead. But, out of five characters, how could I pick whose story to tell? I have a story for each of them. But wouldn’t it be so much more personal if I told it from each person’s point of view. Wait, did I just steal that from another author. I read a book like that recently. Crap, does that mean I’ve ripped off this whole story?

I enjoy writing. I enjoy writing. I enjoy writing.

I think this is why we (yes, by we I mean me) are afraid to try new things. It’s easy to say, “oh yes, I’m a writer. I have a blog.” What about pushing to the next level? What if writing a “story” doesn’t come as easily? Afterall, you don’t get to hit “publish” after just 500 words. What if you aren’t (gulp) good at it?

I’m pushing. I may not be good at it, but how can I ever grow as a person if I don’t try new things? How will I ever know what I’m capable of if I don’t push myself beyond my comfortable 500 words and go for more? Will I be a best-selling author? Who knows? What I do know is, I want to be able to tell my grandkids, “oh yeah, I wrote a ‘story’ once” even if I do have to go up to the attic and blow the dust off the unpublished pages.

Pushing yourself to your limits takes work. That work separates those who push past their limits and get a little uncomfortable versus those still sitting on the sidelines reading their self-help books while not applying a single damn principle.

Step off the sidelines. Get uncomfortable. Here’s your official pass OFF the sidelines! What area will YOU begin working on instead of saying “someday”?

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3 thoughts on “Are You Stuck on the Sideline?

  1. We all have those self-doubts you experienced, and most of us have said the same words. Guess there’s comfort in numbers, huh? One of my favorite quotes is by the comedien Stephen Wright: “I’m writing a book. I’ve got the page numbers done.” That about sums it up.

    But you’re right. At some point we need to “Step off the sidelines” and “Get uncomfortable.” 🙂

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