The universe offers all kinds of advice about skills, but none so much as the need to practice whatever it is you are trying to be successful at. You want to be a good writer? Write every day. You want to be a good runner? Sign up for a race and then lace up your shoes. You want to play an instrument? Close your door so no one has to listen to it, but get going. You want to be a housekeeper? Sweet; give me a ring. It is a use it or lose it world, people, and the competition is fierce, which makes the advice to practice that much more severe, and then makes me fret over every lost minute.
On Sunday at work, I was assigned to sit with a dementia patient, who was very impulsive and at risk of falling and wandering. The TV in her room was set at a random station, and an infomercial came on with this millionaire who had a wonderful idea to sell! He discussed his theory about forming habits that are going to help you succeed! After all, every year, 1,700 Americans become millionaires! His advice was to study your day and look for the time/energy/tasks that pull you away from your life goals, and, of course, get rid of them! Awesome! Gives me my excuse to buy precut vegetables at the grocery store and expensive clothes that never have to be ironed. But I still had a question: what about competing tasks that are both helpful, but you only have time for one?
Well, my patient turned off the program because she thought the remote was her phone, so I’m not sure if Millionaire Guy ever talked about competing tasks.
My conundrum is whether to spend my limited (free?) time studying writing techniques & literature or just freaking write. With my shelves full of writing books, my bookmark tab overflowing with writing websites, an email folder full of unread writing advice, and a list of books I should be reading that would last me until I develop dementia like my patient, I am entirely torn. I have a desire to soak up all the writing advice, listen to podcasts, read tons of literature, and take online courses, but I wouldn’t be doing the very thing I need to do: Write!
In an alternate universe I could do all kinds of stuff at the same time, then come out of it with a mind-blowing breakout novel, faultless grammar, prose that will stun and inspire, perfect comp titles, and, finally, be able to discuss how all the important authors contributed to my writing. And then I’d create an infomercial! And convince everyone to do what I did! After all, 33 people can make it onto the NYT Bestseller list each year! And one of them isn’t previously published!
Daydreams aside, time must be spent wisely because we don’t get any of it back. If tasks are competing, I’m gonna pick one for today and go for it with everything I got and then do the same tomorrow. Readers, I hope you are all pursuing your goals with tenacity, and I wish you all major success.
I am going to go write and see where it takes me. If you find me wandering around, though, it might be time to adjust my goals.