Why Practice Calms Fears

My greatest long-term fear is that I waste precious, scarce time in my life.  There, I said it.  I don’t think I’ll ever have ENOUGH time to explore everything I want to try in my lifetime.

“Am I wasting my time?”  I’ve asked that question again and again in my full-time writing career.  After all, I’ve spent every part of my life that mattered as a storyteller and writer.  It’s only been the last five-plus years that I’ve devoted myself to fiction, which is, it turns out, much harder than writing about process improvement or critical thinking.

Was it five years spent well or a squander of energy?  I vacillated between believing it’s been great and thinking I should have stuck to management consulting and university teaching, despite the burnout.  Here’s where I am today.

At every opportunity over this period, I attempt to improve my craft.  Deeper characters.  More twists to a solid plot.  Tighter writing.  Wider descriptive word usage.  Doing things differently for the sake of trying something new.  Pushing my limits.

But – “Am I wasting my time?”

I believe the answer is no.  Maybe it took writing a full series to show me the ins and outs and what I’m capable of, the good points and the places where I need to call in reinforcements.  I can see the progression of my skills from Book 1 to 12, the draft I’m working on now.

Practice, lots of practice.  On this series alone, I’ve written and edited about a million and a half words, by my totals.  I’ve exceeded the 10,000 hours to get good at something.  I’ve participated in countless craft sessions and implemented so many tools, some that work and some that don’t, that I’ve lost track.

Now, when the committee in my head starts their stinking thinking, I bring out my spreadsheets of hours and charts of progress and graphs of improvements and show them proof of the hard work I’ve put in.  Practice, it turns out, shuts them up.  After all, it’s better than…

never trying.

…never risking.

…never taking the chance.

…never wasting my time.

What’s your greatest creative fear?  How might practice help you overcome it?

 

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