Just Do It!

As I read various blogs I come across so many comments from people wondering how to do it all – make time in days and nights filled with so much living in order to eek out precious hours for their writing. There are dreams unfulfilled because stories have never made it past the idea stage, or have been started but not finished, or finished but not marketed.

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In last Friday’s interview on the NovelJourney blog, author Kristin Bair O’Keeffe was asked what advice she would give aspiring writers.

Her answer:

“The way I look at it, there are two parts to being a writer:

1) the mystery of discovering and writing stories

2) the business of finding homes for and marketing those stories

Keep the two parts separate. Trust the mystery of your story as you’re writing it. Listen to it. Breathe it in. Breathe it out. See it in your dreams. Carry it on your daily walk to the river. Once you’ve finished a story, believe in it. Then do everything you can to find a home for it.”

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I like how succinct Kristin’s response is. “Keep the two parts separate.” It doesn’t address the challenges we may face, the doubts or lack of time. It assumes serious writers will overcome these and move on to achieve. It has the ring of Nike’s motto, “Just do it”.  It reminds us that excuses don’t produce books, action does, and the choice to write or not write is ours to make.

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No, of course Kristen didn’t actually say any of these things, but that’s what I discovered between the lines. I sensed a no nonsense “just do it” attitude.

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Do you think maybe this is the attitude that separates dreamers from achievers?

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18 thoughts on “Just Do It!

  1. I definitely think that you have to work at anything if you want to make it a reality. Talking about things does not get them done and neither does dreaming. Though with writing there are a lot of intangilbles that go into the process. A lot of the planning and the like could be considered idle day dreaming by the casual observer.
    Thanks for an interesting discussion.

  2. Laura Best says:

    Dreams are fine to have, important even. Where would we be without them? But when it comes down to it unless you take action, most dreams will not just magically come into being. Wouldn’t it be nice if it did? Stories would be of little use if they lived only in the writer’s imagination.

    “Just do it!” I like that attitude. It’s so true.

  3. Tricia says:

    In the beginning,(when I was young and naive) I could seperate the two. Now my brain is corrupted with too much reality and I don’t see the little successes I used to see. I want to be the person I used to be.

  4. I think overcoming self-doubt is key to moving forward with any dream. Whether it’s writing, forming our own business, or something else, it’s impossible to succeed if you never try. Many people seem to prefer the safety of dreaming to the struggle of succeeding.

  5. lauradroege says:

    Great observation. I’ve had a lot of people tell me “I’ve always wanted to write a book,” but few have ever done it. It reminds me of how people respond when they learn my family doesn’t have a TV. “Wow,” they often say, “I’d like to do that, but (insert excuse, usually blaming the kids’ love of cartoons or the spouse’s ESPN addiction).” My husband and I say, “Just do it.” I might add that I wouldn’t have the time to write my WIP if we owned a TV!

  6. Shari says:

    I definitely think the “just do it” attitude is necessary if we hope to make our dreams a reality. It’s important (and fun) to dream, but the key, I think, is to make sure we spend a LITTLE time on the dreaming and a LOT of time on the doing. 😉

  7. Self-discipline and self-confidence are key in moving from dreamt-it to did-it, imo.

  8. Oh my goodness–have you been reading my mind today? I needed this so much! Thanks!

  9. Great advice! Thanks for this post

  10. It’s good advice but so easy to put off until tomorrow. There’s always some new book on “how to write” to read first!

  11. Cher says:

    Great advice!

    I’d actually say there’s three parts of being a writer.

    The writing and discovery, the editing and revisions, and the finding the homes for your babies.

    Separating the task is good advice, and something I’ve strived to do, but sometimes it’s hard to separate the different tasks.

  12. Thanks, everyone, for your responses. I agree dreaming is a valid part of the creative process. Our stories begin in our minds. But as some have said, it’s so easy to procrastinate and never quite move from dreaming to doing. Whether it’s because we lack confidence, fear failure or aren’t fully committed to the task, the dream will never become reality unless we dare to “just do it”. Doing is what makes the difference between marking time or making progress.

  13. christicorbett says:

    Carol,
    I am just five meager pages away from finally finishing my revisions on my historical fiction. Wow did it take work and sacrifices, but wow is it worth it!
    Christi
    http://christicorbett.wordpress.com

  14. JaxPop says:

    Carol – You hit a nerve. As you probably know, I’m a go through over or around kind of person. Tell me something’s impossible – I’ve gotta prove it’s not.

    “Just Do It!” – That expression sure beats “I Could Have”

    Get past the excuses & self doubt – In the end, what’s the real risk?

    EVALUATE: What trivial, mundane, time wasting, mind-numbing tasks – “entertainment” choices – & general interferences can be pruned out of our day(s) to make time for the pursuit of our goals or dreams?

    Evaluate: Do the opinions of others affect effort & goal setting? Do outside opinions (validation) shape other areas of our lives? No? Cool, full steam ahead then.

    Evaluate: What goal has ever been attained that did not require hard work, courage, determination &, sometimes, difficult struggles? {Looking back – that success was really sweet!)

    Dreams & imagination are great. Action makes it all come to life.

    Off the soapbox now. My Bad.

  15. Hi Carol,

    So happy to hear that my response to the question in the Novel Journey interview resonated with you, and what a great conversation you’ve started about what separates dreamers from achievers. As you suspected, I’m a big believer in the “just do it” philosophy. Yep, I’m a dreamer, too, but the butt-in-the-chair, fingers-to-the-keyboard time is equally important.

    Cheers!

    Kristin

    • Thanks for your comment, Kristin. It’s interesting to see how much people in all walks of life accomplish with a “just do it” approach. We need the dreamers, too — the creative minds, the Albert Einsteins, artists and inventors — but it saddens me when wonderful dreams never reach the reality stage because people aren’t motivated enough to act.

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