My daughter is home sick today. That’s kind of a good thing, because as she lay up in bed with a fever that keeps her supine and sleepy, I am forced to stay home and get something done.
My writing “process’ has been ridiculously sporadic to the point of being non-existent. In my writing class at Grub Street I keep touting the effectiveness of waiting for inspiration to grab me versus sitting my butt in the chair and just writing. Every published author says the latter is the way to actually get writing done and re-done. I am not sure why I think my way is better since I have yet to be published or even finish anything worth publishing at this point.
I am being lazy.
I want it to come easy–I want the words to flow like a springtime river from my fingers onto the page without any needed revision or correction. Words that will cleanse and refresh. Sentences that will be quoted. I daydream about my book, it’s structure and content and when it is subsequently made into that cinematic blockbuster starring…oh I don’t know, Michelle Pfeiffer?
My oldest son is the same way.
He wants to succeed at hockey and baseball, even after three knee operations, without a lot of grueling, sweat-inducing training and practice. I continually tell him that he needs to work harder if he wants to make an athletic comeback but he only focusses on how it “used to be” and what a great athlete he was before his knee problems. He daydreams about being accepted to college on his athletic merit –being the star center-fielder on their baseball team, taking them to the championships.
And dreams are wonderful.
Where would we be without our dreams. But dreams without hard work are like diet without exercise, or ant-depressants without therapy. Neither works alone. Dreams don’t come true unless we actually get up and do something about them. Conversely, toiling away day after day without vision or purpose only leads to depression.
There are more reasons than I can count why any of us do not work towards our own dreams. Why some of us actually sabotage our own efforts in the quest toward happiness. Too often we are caught up in daily tasks but isn’t that just an excuse for our fear of succeeding or our fear of failure? I can fill my days up with many, many tasks, from cleaning the kitchen to shopping to making necklaces and suddenly the day is gone and I haven’t written a word on the page.
Or I can get to work, sit my butt in the chair and write something.
Which is what I did today. I tried to think all morning about what I wanted to write –something timely and poignant–but no substantive words came into my head. So I decided to just start typing, and here, I’ve written a slightly cohesive piece on dreams and hard work. It wasn’t a huge endeavor to sit down and start typing. It was a small thing.
So do one small thing today that gets you closer to your dream. Always wanted to be a nurse? Sign up for one class. You don’t have to go back to school full time. Just one class. But work really hard at that one class. Next semester take two. Want to become a runner? Lace up your sneakers and run a mile. And then work really hard at increasing that distance.
What is the worst possible scenario? You decide after a few classes that you don’t want to be a nurse but maybe pharmaceuticals are in your future. Or you don’t love running but you’ve lost some weight and learned to exercise on a regular basis. In my case, I write a book and no one reads it. So what. I wrote it. And chances are it was hard work but that I felt wonderful while I was writing it–especially the last chapter. And then I have fulfilled one dream, which will inevitably lead to another dream–and in the process I have learned how to work toward something meaningful.
Because, really, what else are we supposed to do here, if not fulfill our own dreams?