There are a hundred reasons why people don't pursue the things that they love and only one sure way to ensure that they do.
Read on and I will reveal all. The reason I know this is because I've spent the last several months reading books on how to set and achieve goals, how to live your dreams, how to write like a mofo, how to clear your energy blocks, etc, etc, ad naseum. I love reading books like this. Why? Because as long as I'm reading about doing something, I don't actually have to do it. It's one of the most hallowed and advanced forms of procrastination.
However, if you were to condense the advice in all of the books above, it would come down to this: if you want to do something just sit down and do it. Since my goals are mostly centered around writing, for me this translates into: just write.
But wait, there's more. When you take action toward your dreams, life steps up to meet you halfway. The Fates breathe stardust on your work and magic happens.
When I sit down to write, it activates my procrastibrain. I type out a paragraph and then feel an overwhelming need to organize the kids' closets or advance the laundry or indulge my sudden and uncontrollable desire for coffee and a cinnamon muffin. When I finally manage to complete a piece of writing it's incredibly cathartic. I want to cheer and hang a Mission Accomplished banner across my back porch.
If you are doing all these things then, like me, you don't really see yourself as a writer.
When I go into work, I work full stop for a good 8-10 hours. In a given day, I may interview a job candidate, negotiate a contract, create a salary spreadsheet, give a presentation and answer about fifty emails. I don't expect kudos for doing this. There are no celebrations, my boss doesn't high-five me and fireworks don't erupt into the air and light the ceiling tiles in my office on fire. It's just another day at work. I do it because it's my job.
The trick, for a writer, is to view writing as a job. Or so they tell me.
Okay, okay, okay, said I, with a sigh. I will just do it. I signed up to participate in NaNoWriMo this year, which, if you don't know about it, means committing to write 50k words in the month of November. The last time I did this, it worked like a charm. I produced a 52,000 word draft of my memoir (which, incidentally, still sits in draft form). I knew it would be more challenging this year because I am working full-time. But I made the commitment to do it. And then something extraordinary happened.
I was walking out of a campus building on Wednesday after attending a social media training and missed a step. I did a dramatic, ankle-crunching triple lutz onto the pavement which earned me an audience of concerned citizens and an ambulance ride to the hospital. They diagnosed me with a shattered left fibula and sprained right ankle and sent me home with a splint, a bottle of Percocet and instructions to lie flat in bed for a really long time.
So here I lie. Ambulation is near impossible. Even maneuvering from my bed to the bathroom requires fifteen minutes, a rolling chair, incredible tricep strength and the loss of my dignity.
Thus it was I woke up on the morning of November 1st, opened up my computer and wrote 3,000 words out of the chute. I could not stop to advance the laundry, cleaning was a pipe dream and even preparing a cup of coffee was beyond my capabilities (god dammit). I quite literally was robbed of nine-tenths of my go-to procrastination tricks.
One thing I learned from my ordeal of the last few years is that we get to choose our own life narratives. While we can't control the actions of others, we get to define the meaning behind any experiences we have. That is why I have chosen to see my accident not as an unfortunate mishap or evidence of spectacular klutzery, but rather the Universe hearing my wishes and creating for me the time and space to write.
It also means that the next time I find myself procrastinating towards taking action in the direction of my goals, I probably should just go ahead and do it. Because it would be even more fun to be writing full bore with coffee and two working legs.