Many of us thought 2015 was going to be the year we would finally do it… start that blog, create that marketing brochure, rewrite that old, crusty website copy, send weekly e-newsletters, and finally post something on that Facebook business page.
So, what happened?
We all know the answer—work happened. How are we supposed to spend time writing about our business when we’re busy running it, right?
But today I want to talk about something else that often stands in our way. Writer’s block, procrastination, perfectionism—everything that keeps writers from producing work—all comes from one thing…
I know, I know. You’re not afraid; you’ve just been really busy, right?
I was really busy, too. For over a decade I kept myself ridiculously, supremely busy with insurmountable daily to-do lists, all because I was trying to distract myself from the unbelievable and frightening truth of what I was actually put on this earth to do—write.
I’m not suggesting that you’re doing the same thing—distracting yourself with accounting or lawyering when you’re actually supposed to be a novelist. (Although, who knows, right?)
But I am saying that you KNOW, deep down in your gut, that there is one thing standing in between you and the success you envision for yourself:
In the age of the Internet, “Communication” doesn’t mean more meetings or picking up the phone more often. It means writing.
And writing is scary.
I know, I know. You’re not scared; you’re just busy. So, just try something for me:
Close your eyes and remember a paper that was returned to you at some point in school with blue or red writing on it. Remember a time you had to share your writing out loud in class as a kid.
Are those happy memories? If the answer is a unilateral yes, then you’re right. You’re not scared; you’re just busy. You can stop reading now.
But if anything about that exercise made you flinch, just consider the idea that I might be on to something.
Writing is scary for so many reasons. We grew up with the constantly reinforced notion that our writing wasn’t good enough. Even if you were an A student, a teacher would be loathe to return an assignment without at least one or two red marks on it. There’s always room for improvement, right?
And, if you’ve ever had to read a piece of writing out loud, you know the undeniable fact that your writing is going to be judged—no matter what.
The other thing about writing is the commitment of it. Once you hit SEND, you can’t take it back. And what if it’s awful and everyone thinks you’re pathetic? ridiculous? stupid? That’s why we want everything we write to be absolute…
At least I do. I want everyone to think I’m perfect. It’s a wonder I get anything on the page at all, let alone into the send queue. You want to know my secret?
Every day, I give myself permission to be messy.
Because here’s the thing: no one wants to hire a robot. If people wanted robots, we would be living in a robot world by now, like that old movie with Robin Williams. Instead, we invented the Internet.
People want to hire accountants and lawyers and coaches who understand them, who can relate to their problems and concerns, who can visualize their goals with them. In other words, we want to hire humans.
And humans aren’t perfect.
So, it’s okay that you didn’t finish (or even start) that writing project you wanted to get done this year. You’re human.
It’s okay to get a messy and completely imperfect half-of-a-first-draft onto your desktop today. You’re human.
It’s okay to look silly, or stupid, or wrong, because you’re human.
It’s even okay to ask for help—you’re human!
And you can keep doing all of those things as messily and imperfectly as humanly possible until one day you’re ready to lift your human, God-given finger and hit SEND.
Your business will grow. YOU will grow, too.