Yes, this photo is a sign. I’m starting a new book. Along with that, I’m prepping my debut novel for publication.
I took a sudden medical hiatus from work projects soon after I published my first nonfiction book. After a cancer diagnosis in my appendix, two surgeries, a skin biopsy (might as well take care of it all at once), and weeks of physical therapy (for a loosely related shoulder complication), I’m now in monitoring mode.
And these projects provide the energy and purpose I need. A new book, a project, a goal. Whatever. Throw one of these at me and I thrive.
Writing might not be your thing, like mine, but each of us has to start the first chapter of whatever “our thing” is and then build on that.
So how did I move from months on the couch without a real desire to accomplish much to engaging in several new projects?
I fed my initiative. Initiative is sensing our readiness and capacity, then choosing to move forward. It’s taking that first step. It’s moving from stop to go—passive to active.
When you act on ideas and make them live, you feed them the life they need to grow.
1. Do something with your desire.
I read a lot of books and articles and watched a lot of movies while I recuperated. The stories and words inspired me. I funneled that spark of desire into a commitment to publish my novel in the coming months. I’ve waited for years for the “yes” from publishers. Now, it’s time to get it in readers’ hands, and I’m working step-by-step to make that happen.
What’s your desire? For your family? Your job? Your hobbies? For everyday tasks that have piled up?
2. Take or make opportunities for new responsibility or projects.
A friend asked me to teach her Sunday School class for a few weeks during her vacation. My initial thought? “I can’t do that. How will I feel then?” But I said yes. And, instead of just giving a lecture, I researched and taught with a more active style of teaching. Despite not feeling 100%, that new skill increased my capacity and encouraged me in my writing projects.
What opportunities to stretch, give or learn surround you?
3 Research and outline a plan without inflating the pre-work.
I will climb a number of steps in the next six months to publish my novel and write another nonfiction book. Rather than waiting for all the pieces to be in place, I still acted. After I read that more publishers like to collaborate with authors rather than receive a finished product, I pitched a new story idea, even without a book proposal, to my publisher. His request for an outline provided my next step.
Are you bogged down in planning? Try acting without the whole plan in place. Trust that insights and information will come.
4. Make time for the everyday but out-of-the-way stuff.
Many days my motivation still wanes for a number of reasons. Recently, I used one of these off days to watch a few good movies and sort forgotten file folders of paperwork, two folders at a time. I sifted and sorted years of paperwork, writing notebooks, and projects from past days. The process fueled my energy and formed my ideas into something bigger.
What forgotten task have you been putting off? Completing that small one may be your most powerful motivator.
5. Work with others to hold yourself accountable.
Before fully knowing how and where and when I will publish my debut novel, I approached two trusted writers/editors and asked them to help me get it ready. With one, I agreed to edit her novel in return. The reciprocal relationship benefited us both and committed me to complete a needed step to continue. This point works well when the task is lengthy, daunting, difficult or undesirable.
Who can help you with a piece of your project? What can you do for him or her in return?
Switching from a major health crisis back into productive work may not happen that often, fairly regularly most of us fight the tendency to sit or wander without purpose and direction.
When that happens, start small and just act. Grab even an inch of desire. Feed it. And keep feeding it.