I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my life goals. Not in the bucket list (Picnic beneath the Eiffel Tower! Safari in Tanzania!) sense, but in the life purpose sense. And one thing that comes to me again and again and again is that I feel called to write.
I do a lot of writing in my daily work. I write emails, blog posts, books, Facebook posts, tweets, and more. And I love it. But it’s a certain level of communication that I’m longing for, one that goes deeper and is less purpose-driven. It’s, I guess, a process-based writing that I’m looking for. The kind where you start with an idea and you follow it along like Harold’s purple crayon, seeing where it takes you, never quite sure if you will end up where you thought or somewhere entirely different.
This writing gets pushed to the bottom of the to-do list precisely because it has no definite point. It’s hard to set aside 30 minutes or an hour to wander — albeit only on paper — when I’ve got real, live tasks for real, live people waiting for me. After all, I could write for 30 minutes and end up nowhere interesting at all, or I could take the 30 minutes and do the dishes, scrapbook a layout, fold a load of laundry, and write five follow-up emails. Guess which wins out?
Here’s the challenge: If I want to be the kind of writer who writes about deep, thoughtful topics, I need to spend time wandering. In other words,
It’s simple, really. If I want to be a writer, I have to write. I have to explore, I have to “waste time,” I have to create reams of not-so-good musings and essays and blog posts so I’ll generate the occasional great one. I have to write.
And so I am.
And I’m not the only one this principle belongs to. Want to be an artist? You have to draw. Want to be a photographer? You have to take pictures. You want to be a leader, a philanthropist, a politician? Then you have to lead, donate, lie (just kidding on that last one!).
We somehow get this idea that our dreams will occur FOR us, fully-formed, at some point in the future when we are “worthy” of them (this is what the instant-gratification, overnight success society of the “X Factor” and “So You Want to Be a Millionaire” has done to us). We don’t have to grow into our dreams, or work towards them, or develop specific skills. Instead, we just need to wait to be discovered.
Nope. Doesn’t work like that.
You have to take the small steps. You have to write, draw, dance, explore, learn, create lousy art, throw it away, and try again. You have to do it over and over and over again. And then inch by inch, step by step, ho-hum blog post by ho-hum blog post, you BUILD your dream. It’s not easy, it’s not always fun, but it is simple.
So, what are you going to do today?