I wrote this debut article (below) for the Northern Light Newspaper 8 years ago. My job was to write a little opinion column series entitled Take Five.
I was excited to finally have an opportunity to write a column! And I was terrified. I was ready! And I was not ready… The 5 B’s of Doing-ness article was the beginning of my writing (in public) career.
It is full of first thoughts and honest ambition. And to be honest it is not very well written. Despite Its imperfections, it was liked and shared more than most of my other (more polished) Take Five articles.
I wondered why that was. My editor at the time had a theory. She said to me, “Raw and relatable = readable. Perfect and polished don’t always have as big an impact. You have to be careful not to “shine” the soul out of your words.”
I know a lot of you are writing a business plan, your website, or trying to maintain a genuine and consistent connection with those you serve. First of all, thank you for being willing to offer your unique gifts and services to the world.
And also! Try to remember your content doesn’t have to be perfectly polished to make an impact. You are authentic and ambitious which is better! Show us your soul.
THE FIVE B’s OF DOING-NESS
#1 Beginning- I have to admit it is kind of intimidating staring at the blinking curser as it prods almost intrusively at my skill and ability to write. I just dive in. It seems characteristic of me, like jumping off the roof when I was 12, into the make shift snow mound. Now, just like then, a second of uncertainty is less uncomfortable than the thought of standing there feeling frozen and unsure. When I try to stay in one place and think it over patiently and rationally, I often just talk myself out of things. I’d rather just take a chance and see what happens then spend too much time second guessing myself. I’m not afraid of mistakes. I am afraid of feeling stuck. So here I am. I’ve begun to write. I’ve already gotten through a paragraph and it all seems relevant and thought provoking, which is after all what I was going for when I sat down to write my first piece for potential publication.
#2 Baby steps- I’ve never done this kind of writing but I’ve always wanted to. “Well,” I think to myself “anyone who’s done anything has never done it before at one point.” This thought is very reassuring to me and so I press on. I have found that whenever I do anything new or exciting, whether it is life changing like a move to a new place, a break up, or perhaps less serious like deciding to take a class or start an exercise routine, it’s best to just take it one tiny step at a time and not get all hung up on the final project. I adhere to the saying “Progress not perfection.” Most of the time nothing turns out the way you thought it would anyway, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t turn out wonderful. The fun part is often getting there and the little-by-little-stuff can be just as exciting as the final step into your original pursuit.
#3 Breaks- I stop writing and go to the store with my honey, due to late night BBQ cravings (an excuse to be outside and around the fire really). All along I’m writing this in my head as we browse the isles at Fred Meyer’s for short ribs and salad dressing. Then I stop. “Wait, this is nice. I should enjoy this”, I think to myself as I grab my honey’s hand. Sometimes we forget to take breaks when we are excited about doing something for the first time. I often get over involved forgetting to travel back to the surface of reality, for a breath of fresh air or a warm moment of clarity. A deep breath is waiting for me here, between all my nerve and ambition, the sound of crackling embers or the plot of my four year old daughter’s day spilling out in broken words and infectious laughter. When I step back into the project later I may have something more to bring with me than if I had just stayed and obsessed.
#4 But-what-if’s- I look over what I’ve already done. I start to get anxious and self-critical and then I stop myself and remember that mistakes are also great teachers. It’s not enough to start something if I’m not going to give it my all. Sure it’s true not all things are meant to be, but if you don’t try your best and do everything you can to make it work you will never know. I guess that brings me back to the “doing-ness” factor. In the first place, it is tough sometimes to just get out there and do the stuff you’ve always wanted to do. Whether it’s starting something or ending something. I don’t know exactly what makes it so difficult. Maybe it’s a case of relentless what-if’s rooted in our fears of failure and disappointment? All I know is I’d rather be disappointed than disenchanted any day!
#5 Balls – I believe we should do the things we want to do even if others warn us not to. Isn’t that what all the greatest do-ers and revolutionists in history have done? We are ordinary people but we can do extraordinary things and lead extraordinary lives, just by indulging our simplest dreams and want-to’s. So I am doing this. Writing a column is one of the many things I’ve always wanted to do and I appreciate you being a part of it. I bid you all a good week full of opportunity, trying and original pursuits!
PS. I just started a little Writing Circle. If you could use some writing feed back, support, or inspiration at this time feel free to join us.