We've all heard, and perhaps even been inspired, by this famous slogan from the brand Nike. Yet, how many of us actually put it in practice?
Ever since I was young, I've always said that I wanted to be a writer. I've talked about writing, thought about writing, read books on writing, listened to podcasts on writing, one thing I rarely do though, is stop and actually write.
Today, I found myself listening to an interview between Tim Ferris and Jerry Seinfeld on writing. At first, I felt a little bit guilty about listening to yet another episode on the subject instead of using the time to sit down and write. However, I found it very enlightening. While the advice given was not necessarily new, it was exactly what I needed to hear.
I've always been a planner. I like creating systems and structures; I like envisioning things and drawing the steps to get there; I like analyzing things in detail; and I like organization. For a very long time, I bought into the myth that this was somehow antithetical to my wanting to write, to developing my creative self. I thought that to be creative and to be a writer I had to have a eureka moment that immediately translated into a bestseller.
Well, it turns out, Jerry Seinfeld disagrees. In the interview, he said - and I quote - "what is the problem with systematizing?" His strategy basically consists of carrying a little notebook where he writes observations, and then sitting for a writing session every day with a cup of coffee, a yellow legal pad, and his little notebook.
One of the things that interested me most about the interview was his discussion on rewards. Last year, I read the book "The Power of Habit," which posits that in order to create a habit, we need a cue and a reward that kept 'feeding' the behaviour until it became a habit. This was evident in Seinfeld's process. While he admitted loving the feeling of people enjoying his sets live, he was adamant that his biggest reward was the sense of accomplishment he felt after a writing session. When viewed in this light, it is no wonder why he has been able to develop his writing habit - his reward is intrinsic and not dependent on a future response from his audience.
I thought this was genius. It was not only practical advice, but it also goes to show that creativity is not mutually exclusive with discipline, organization, and structure.
Of course, there have been times when inspiration has struck in the most unlikely of times. There have been moments in my life where I've gone just a little bit Jane the Virgin while on the bus, needing to write something immediately, like my life depends on it, before I lose that idea. However, this doesn't always happen and if I rely on those extraordinary moments, I would never get any writing done.
So the question now is, what have you been postponing as a result of overthinking, insecurity, negative self-talk?
Without a doubt, we need to exercise caution when saying "just do it," because sometimes ‘just doing it’ might be imprudent or might result in harm. There’s nothing wrong with exercising caution, thinking things through and weighing your options. But, if it's about developing certain skills, starting a hobby or testing the waters to further develop a gift, don’t hesitate to carve out some intentional time in your day and then just play the instrument, just run, just follow the tutorial, just find a recipe, just get on the bike, just grab a pen and a notebook, just (fill in the blank)… just do it.