I used to work for a big company where we rarely said no to a good idea. We just added it on to our already overstuffed agenda for the year. We did lots of different things, but we didn’t do everything well. Eventually, one of the senior managers stepped in and took the hard line approach that less is more. He set about paring back a lot of the ‘good’ things, to instead focus on a select few of the ‘great’ things.
At the time, I thought it made very good sense, but never went so far as to apply it in the context of my own life.
As many of you now know, 2012 was the year I decided to take control of my future, figure out exactly where my passion lay and work like crazy to build a life around doing that everyday. It turned out that when 7 year old me declared she was going to be an author, she was on to something. (5 year old me, however, who wanted to be a famous juggling postman, was way off base).
For so long the issue had been not knowing what it was I wanted to do. Then, when I had worked out that the answer was writing, I found myself faced with an even bigger question. How to get started?
I looked for opportunities, sent a bunch of samples out, received several rejections, a whole lot of radio silence and a few acceptances. Fast forward 7 months and I am now a regular contributor to an online publication, I blog weekly, I work full time in a busy writing job, and I’ve just finished a monster project pulling together a Paris itinerary (with another in the works – watch this space). Oh, and I’m also trying to write my debut novel.
It’s only in the midst of all of these ‘good’ things that I’m starting to really understand where that manager was coming from. Back at the start of the year, All I knew was that I wanted to write, so any opportunity to do so was a good one. But now, I’ve had some time and a taste of some of the various facets of writing and my goals are a little more defined.
First and foremost, I want to write a novel.
I also want to be a staff writer at a women’s magazine, a freelance restaurant reviewer for Gourmet Traveller, a Lonely Planet guidebook author – the list goes on. And those are just my writing goals. I also want to open my own restaurant in Paris, run a bed and breakfast in the French countryside, write an allergy-friendly cookbook.
But I’m realising that if I ever want to achieve any of my goals, starting with the big one, finishing my novel, I may need to cut out some of the static and give it my full attention (in so much as I can whilst working full time, planning 2 weddings, and making a vague attempt to lose those last 5 kilos).
But it’s so against my nature to say no to things, especially ‘good’ things. I’m only just getting started on my writing journey, and it seems so counter intuitive to be turning down any opportunity at all, in case it’s my last. But I’m going to try. Between now and the end of the year I won’t take on anything new, to give myself the breathing space necessary to finally crack the 30,000 word (halfway) mark on my first draft.
Has anyone else faced a similar situation?