I’m guilty of it too. My mission? To write a thriller that increases heart-rates and breaks sweats. Current status? My internet browser open with 16 tabs. I’m down the rabbit hole of How-To classes from James Patterson and Stephen King, podcasts by the Australia thriller writer Jane Harper and old interviews by Gillian Flynn.
I have articles and guides from countless blogs open on how to write gripping characters, how to input red herrings, how to make the most of my ideas. The thing is, I already know how to do these things. I’ve been writing since I was able, and I know that the more I write the better I’ll be. The issue? I’m paralysed by a number of things, mainly fear, that stop me from actually producing something. By reading everything under the sun about the goal I’ve set, I’m giving myself a false sense of accomplishment and a feeling of moving forward when in fact I haven’t moved at all.
This state of inertia happens in other aspects of my life as well. I am occasionally overcome (like almost everyone…) with a huge dose of willpower and motivation to get fit and healthy. But my false sense of accomplishment comes into play when I start googling healthy recipes, stalking fitspiration instagrams and ‘saving’ exercise videos from various social media sites… that I promise myself “I’ll get to later”. I’ve even gone so far as to set up my own fitness instagram account to post inspiring images and food pics, and to keep myself accountable. In the minutes, hours, days wasted in the activities above, what have I actually accomplished in my goal to get fit? Nada.
It’s not until I close the apps on my phone, put on my runners and make my way to the gym that I’m actually doing something substantial towards my goal. And that feeling of accomplishment that follows is far more real and satisfying.
Don’t get me wrong — researching tips and tricks from those whose work you want to emulate can be super beneficial and inspiring. Reading and watching how-to guides can also teach you wonderful things. Researching about health and fitness ensures your journey will be effective and that you do no harm to yourself. But the only real way you will achieve your end goal is by doing.
Want to write that novel? Close those tabs and write the first sentence. And then the next. Want to start getting fit so that one flight of stairs don’t render you breathless? Go to the gym, get on that treadmill and put that fitspo to the test. You’ll never do, unless you do!