A couple of months ago, when I started querying agents, I had a little…transitional crisis, I guess you could call it. Getting my query prepared, picking out the agents I would send it to, and shipping out those first few emails was fun. Oh, the possibilities ahead of me. But after about the first week and the first few rejections, it finally hit me: this could really happen.
Yeah, okay. So that’s not the typical response to rejection letters. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been told I’m wired backwards.
You see, I’ve always envied all the writers out there who are so sure of their path. They know right from the get-go that they want to publish their books and hey, don’t we all want to be bestsellers? They may get frustrated when things don’t move as quickly as they’d like or when they hit roadblocks, but the goal is a steady beacon, moving them sometimes sideways, but always forward. For a long time, I simply had no goal except to write a book and become as strong a writer as possible. Whatever that even meant.
The lack of a goal often left me floundering and unmotivated. What did it really matter if I put in the work tonight? No one would notice–not even me. There was list to check off, no “next step” in the process.
One way or another, I ended up on the path, though. I loved seeing my friends succeed and realized, I’d love to hold my book in print one day too. I’d love to share my story with others. It was a gradual process of personal development along with skill development (see previous 200 blogs) that led me to the point of finally sending out that first query letter. But when I hit that transitional crisis, I realized I wasn’t done growing yet.
Thankfully it was right around that time that I was introduced to Steven Pressfield’s Turning Pro, a book about precisely what I needed to hear–facing the resistance I was feeling about turning my passion into a career. There was one part in particular that spoke to me: “When you turn pro, your life gets very simple. The Zen monk, the artist, the entrepreneur often lead lives so plain they’re practically invisible.” And that was what it came down to for me. I feared reaching my goal and having what looked like a plain life from the outside seep in until my own life became plain in the inside. As much as I love writing books, I want more than simply hitting a deadline once a year.
Of course, once it realized this was the resistance I was facing, I could talk to myself about it and the first thing I said was, “Well, that’s just crazy! There are so many exciting things that come with being a published author.” So I decided to write those things down–the things that made publishing the right choice for me, and that would make my life more than simple. I want it to be an adventure!
It was time to think big. What was it I really wanted? No limits. No such thing as impossible. Because the point wasn’t to choose goals I might accomplish in the next year, or five, or ten (although that would be awesome!). The point was to create that guiding beacon of my own to make sure I stay focused with each passing year. Without a big picture understanding of what I–or you–want out of life, it’s easy to get pushed in the wrong direction by something that seems important at the time, to get discouraged by the small setbacks, to forget why you’re doing all this in the first place. Big picture goals remind you of what’s truly important when real life inevitably gets in the way. It’s your inner six-year-old saying anything is possible and you are completely capable of making it happen.
And you know what? You are. You are! All you need is a road map (your big picture goals) and a full tank of gas (determination to do whatever it takes). So what is it you really want? And how much of your fear are you willing to let go of to get there?
Because the sky is the limit. And you’re behind the wheel.