What would you do if you could not fail?
What’s worth doing even if I fail?
I made a commitment. I put it in writing.
I sent it to you. And then I freaked out.
Because now I actually have to write this stuff which means I have to allow myself to feel it, too. And honestly the only reason I’m typing right this minute is because I have a self imposed deadline that I shared with my coach and she’ll call me out on it if I miss it. It’s in two days. I am a master procrastinator, what can I say? In my last blog I shared that I am wrestling with some internal misunderstandings I call Mandy Myths. They creep in and seep all over my big exciting dreams like water on the counter you accidentally put your kids homework down on just long enough to ruin it. Invasive and irritating but also, avoidable.
First up, Mandy Myth #1 “I don’t know how to do it”
I am a dreamer. I have imagined myself sitting in a chair opposite Oprah with cameras rolling talking about my latest book, many times. I close my eyes and I can FEEL a room with ten thousand people cheering me after a keynote speech. I visualize walking through an airport and stopping at the bookstore to sign a few copies of my latest book on the way to my annual women’s retreat. I can see the end game like a boss, it was never the big dream that I had a problem with. My problem came in how to actually DO the thing all the way from step a to z.
I can write.
I do write. Often.
And I’m really good at it.
But then what?
Because if I don’t know all the steps then I can’t take the first one. If I don’t know exactly how to get a publishing deal or how to sell my books or even how to format the first draft “correctly” then I have no business starting to write it. I don’t know how to become a NY Times Best Selling Author so what’s the point of even writing? These are the literal thoughts of my inner critic nearly every time I sit down to write. For years I would tell people I was writing a book, but I didn’t have a single sentence written down anywhere. I had LOADS of chapters in my head, half developed and aching to explode onto the page, but I didn’t know what the best way to turn in a manuscript was, so I didn’t start writing for fear of having to redo it, or technically “doing” it wrong.
Should I do a book proposal instead of writing the book?
Shouldn’t I really focus on building a social media following first?
Should I write it on a word doc on my laptop or in my google drive?***
So many shoulds and fears. So much avoidance and delay. It wasn’t until I really slowed down and looked at why I was resisting that I recognized it was just my fear wanting to protect me from the unknown.
My friend, Kim, shared with me the concept of disappointment insurance. If she lowballed her fees and took lesser paying contracts than she was worth then the outcome of her work could be lesser than and it would still be ok because it’s not like they paid her top dollar. It was insurance against the pressure to perform to her highest ability thus allowing her to not create too much disappointment as she was a bargain deal.
I’m big on analogies, especially where they involve shoes. Think of it this way…I’m not disappointed when the $20 shoes I snagged online to go with that one outfit, wear out quickly, but I absolutely expect my $150 pair of running shoes I invested in to hold strong for at least 300 miles of hardcore power walking.
In essence, if I don’t put myself all the way out there, I can’t truly be disappointed because I didn’t actually try. Internal disappointment insurance. It’s the $20 shoe version of my dream-half assed, cute for a minute but I never hung any marathon hopes on them so mediocrity is all good. And I’ve protected myself from rejection, frustration or even just discomfort in the process. At least that’s the story I was telling myself. In reality, I was missing out on some big time joy by not showing up for myself or fully investing in my dreams.
There have been so many times I’ve chosen to play small or put aside a dream because I held the misunderstanding that I had to know the entire path upfront. It was like needing to have all the know-how and skills to run a full marathon before I even put on my shoes for my first training run. And like most growth points in my life, this one shifted with one simple question…
WHAT IF I just start with what I know?
Back to The Book…I slowed down and got really basic. I chose to simply start with what I DO know and that was the literal act of writing.*** What I’ve since noticed is that the big scary not sure how to do it part is a lot further down the road than I thought it was and I have plenty of time to figure that out as I get closer. I still don’t know the “how” beyond writing the first draft but it’s not a today problem. Today, I just write.
When was the last time you felt this way — that you don’t know how to do it? What was happening and what beliefs were you buying into? If you’re willing to share, I would love to know. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send you my personal support.
Until next time…do good, be good and if you can’t do either, just don’t be an asshole.
That will be good enough.
P.S. The next Mandy Myth I’ll be tackling is Myth #2: I’m not good enough. AKA, who am I to do this work? I suck. Everyone else is better than me already. Sound familiar? Buckle up…this one is going to sting. ** To get the newsletter directly by email, you can sign up here: https://mandyburnett.com/newsletter
***For the other writers out there who get me but also still need deets…I am writing in google docs (one chapter per google doc) that I keep organized in my google drive so I can write from any computer or laptop at my disposal. Just start doing it.