By Patricia Baer
On New Year’s Day, I sat at the kitchen table with my nephew, and after explaining the concept of a New Year’s resolution over breakfast, we took turns sharing five challenges we were giving ourselves for 2015. Mine, not surprisingly, involved home improvement and writing projects, and his centered around acquiring pet reptiles and achieving new levels in his video games.
The end of January is quickly approaching now. I have not checked in with him recently to ask how his quest to obtain a lizard is going, but I know I have yet to make an earnest start with any of my resolutions. I could claim a hectic schedule is at fault, but the truth is beginnings are hard. Determining where to start on any goal can be overwhelming. In attempting to break a task down into simpler steps, the big picture of what one tries to achieve can be intimidating.
The activity of writing, especially, is a procrastinator’s journey. Follow any writers on Twitter, and your feed will be littered daily with updates on new ways people have found to delay approaching the keyboard.
A recent favorite of mine was the screenwriter who decided washing her garbage cans was suddenly an urgent chore to complete before opening up her laptop. Cleaning is always a good procrastination excuse because it is a productive activity one can easily claim is necessary. Personally, I always seem to acquire a spotless kitchen whenever I have a deadline approaching.
In hesitating to begin, not just in writing but any project, often what we are actually experiencing is the fear of the ending that follows. We are afraid of failing. We are afraid the experience will not be as satisfying as we had hoped. We are afraid the results of our efforts will be judged harshly, either by others or, worse, by our own expectations.
Letting go of the fear is the real challenge and maybe should be the resolution at the top of everyone’s list each year. Embrace the possibility of failure, and risk the criticisms of others because without trying there is no possibility of success. Even in failure there is an opportunity to learn, improve, and try again.
I will end this column on that note for you to contemplate. I have an idea for a play I would like to start on so that I can meet a contest deadline. But first, I think I might tackle that sink load of dishes, you know, just to get them out of the way, and then maybe I will write something, or maybe I will quickly scour my oven.