Writing is hard. Not an earth-shattering revelation, I know, but true all the same. And even harder than writing, is beginning to write. Just starting to write can be a monumental task for me. I spend much of my time waiting for the perfect set of circumstances before I begin: if I have total silence, then I can think better; if I have a clean room, then I can focus; if my dogs would stop being so cute, then I will stop playing with them and start working; if I feel inspired, then I will finally sit down and begin. I’ll if/then myself to the end of the day and suddenly I haven’t written a single word. So I’ll tell myself, “If I sleep well, then I can get more done tomorrow.” And so the vicious cycle continues.
Futurizing is the ultimate form of self-sabotage for an artist. But it doesn’t stop with work; if/then-ing can impact every aspect of life. How many times have you thought to yourself, “If I get more time, then I’ll start working out.” “If I had more money, then I would be able to give more.” And soon it becomes: “If I get ___ (fill in the blank – a car, a wife, a baby, a bigger house) then I will be happy.” But in so doing, our happiness is always out there somewhere, in the future, just out of reach. As is the script you want to write, the symphony you want to finish, the family you’ll start if if if...
If things would only go as I think they should, then I will finally start living.
Before we know it, our whole happiness and entire life have been forfeited to an unknown time that may never come. How sad is that? I’m convinced there’s no combination of two words that has ever been more dangerous (except maybe cookie and dough).
My grandmother used to be fond of the saying, “Don’t be so heavenly minded that you’re no earthly good.” I love that phrase. And I think it can be modified into a great reminder when it comes to if/then-ing – Don’t be so future minded that you’re no good now. Because this is the moment. Now is the time. “Just Do It” isn’t just a slogan; it’s a profound life lesson. It is a sentiment that when acted upon can yield powerful results.
I have been particularly inspired by Laura Hillenbrand, the author who wrote the best selling SEABISCUIT, as well as the amazing book UNBROKEN (which is now being made into a movie with Angelina Jolie directing). Ms. Hillenbrand wrote two moving masterpieces over the course of fifteen years, despite having to do every interview and all of her extensive research as well as typing every line… from her bed. She suffers from debilitating Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – but she never said, “If I get more energy, then I will write.” She wrote despite the lack of energy. She just did it.