Just Keep Going

JUST KEEP GOINGIt’s a bit of a clichéd phrase, one that you hear all the time.  But it struck me last week, as I was finalising the proof copy of Coping with the Horroffice, why people keep bandying this idea around.

I thought it might be easiest if I share an example with you.

I’ve been saying for years now that I want to be a writer.  Literally years.  I think it’s been over fifteen years since I first started writing – a short story about a dog – I’ve still got it somewhere I think.

Here is how my attempts at writing have gone, until last year anyway.  “I’m a writer” I would think, “I need to wait for inspiration to strike.”  So I duly waited for the aforementioned inspiration to strike.  I’d wait and wait.  I bought lots of shiny new stationery in preparation and invitation.  I waited some more.  I created a nice little work space.  Nothing.  Not one iota of ‘bestseller magic’ hit me.  I wondered if it was because I wasn’t focused enough.  When the chance came, I reduced my hours at work, going down to a four-day week, with the idea that my day off would be devoted to writing.  Inspiration was going to strike, regularly as clockwork, on my day off.  See – I wasn’t just waiting for it randomly, I was telling it when it was due.  So I would sit down on a Monday (my ‘writing’ day) and I’d straighten my stationery, sit and think, and wait for inspiration to hit.  Sometimes it did, and sometimes it didn’t.  On the days it didn’t, I did other things (often involving going shopping or lounging around having coffee and reading magazines ‘for inspiration’).

And, although it’ll be no surprise to you, it was actually still a surprise to me when after all this effort I still hadn’t produced my masterpiece.

Then one weekend inspiration really did hit (or so I thought at the time) and I churned out a little children’s story in three days.  Without too much thinking, I sent it off to be discovered by an agent.  And in the meantime I waited, shopped and drank coffee.  After all there was no need to write anymore, I’d written my best-seller, I just needed everyone else to realise it.

But that didn’t quite work out, and although a few agents made some nice comments, and one agent in particular looked at it in detail, the book was a no-goer.

And then I sulked.  I gave up a bit.  I stopped sitting at my writing desk, waiting for inspiration.  I started doing other things – I retrained as a coach, I ran a jewellery business, and of course I read.

But I couldn’t shake off the writing bug completely, and eventually I started jotting down ideas for books, or great titles, or themes I wanted to explore.  The idea for Coping with the Horroffice came to me.  I still have the post-it note with the scribbled title, which I left pinned to the wall for about three months while things fermented, before I even started trying to write anything.  It wasn’t the book I’d imagined writing but it was the one that sparked something and I couldn’t let it go.  But I digress!

At the same time as that idea, I signed up to a course – the ‘Screw Work Let’s Play‘ 30 Day Challenge.  We had to pick a project to work on for 30 days and take it as far as we could.  I decided to pick Coping with the Horroffice, and for those thirty days, every single day, I did a little bit of work on the book.  Some days I did a huge amount, some days I only managed twenty minutes or half an hour.  But I did it, one step at a time, every day, for thirty days without fail.  And at the end of that thirty days I had the first draft of the book.

That challenge taught me a lesson I will never forget, something I think is a key ingredient in any success story, in any field, at any time.  You can’t wait for inspiration to strike, and only work if and when it does.  Yes, you need an idea, a spark.  But every single day after that, you have to feed that spark, fan the flames, a little or a lot, to build your fire, or your book or your gadget.

Every day you need to take a step towards your goal. One step at a time, one day at a time, one task at a time.  It’s not rocket science, nor is it particularly exciting, but it is an essential ingredient to any success story.  You need to remember your end goal, break it down, and then with dogged tenacity and fierce determination you need to keep going.  Even when it gets tough – just keep going.  Even when it gets boring – just keep going.  Even when things aren’t going your way – just keep going.

It will actually be about nine months of working at it, a little or a lot, every day, by the time I actually release Coping with the Horroffice.  And I know releasing it isn’t the end of the journey either, it’s just a new fork in the road.  What will I do when I get there?

Just Keep Going.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.