February 19, 2017

How to Stop Procrastinating & Play a New Soundtrack.

Getting back to the love of my life has been a challenge.

I used to write. I wrote often and loved every word that swirled onto the page from my pen. Those words moved and motivated others—they made me whole. Yet, those words for others slowed to a stop after getting a so-called “life” after college. Excuse after excuse rolled out of my mouth about why. Not having enough time because of work, being too tired, or boasting about my family’s busy social calendar became the chorus of my life.

Recently, when a friend asked why I don’t write anymore, I really listened to my monkey mind and heard the sound of my voice. The soothing sound sheltered me in excuses and grounded my fear. Although, like fingernails on a chalkboard, that voice started to slowly screech at me. Living in fear has never been my intent. Lying to myself hasn’t either. I make time for all sorts of things: I needlepoint, watch Portlandia, or read the latest book on happiness. Why was I avoiding my own?

Then this advertisement for writers appeared almost out of nowhere. It marinated within me for weeks. On the day of the deadline, before chickening out, I leaped up to my laptop to apply to be an apprentice for an online magazine. As soon as I was ready to push play on a new soundtrack in my life, reality bit back. I received a message that it was “full.” At that moment, I knew I screwed myself by waiting until the final moments.

This pattern felt all too familiar: Motivating myself to do something for my own sake, but sabotaging the opportunity by procrastination.

So, now what?

It was time to break the pattern and try just for me. This was something I really wanted, so I sent in an email to ask if there was still room in the fold for one more. A reply appeared in my inbox the next morning with an application.

Shocked, I shrugged, “Let the writing begin.” Inside, I screamed with delight. However, the application called for a current piece of writing that demonstrated my writing abilities and editing craft. My best writing was old and tired. Let the procrastination begin.

Typing, to me, is like playing “Chopsticks” on the piano: it gets old fast. I picked up the nearest writing utensil, a broken pencil. Words were not coming. I texted my son, a freshman in college, about a topic that ruffled my feathers. He wasn’t responding. I had no ideas “good enough,” and my forehead glistened with sweat.

Finally, I gave myself space. What was the hurry? I left the room, played with the dogs, meditated, and relaxed. The old me would’ve stayed there and procrastinated longer. Yet, the new me was done resting. I wanted this, and I was given a chance to try.

Back to the broken pencil. I began to write sideways on the flip side of a paper bill from the vet. Words came tumbling out about a topic that had been brewing in my head for a while: human connection. I gathered those thoughts together and wrote them down. As Ernest Hemingway once said, “The first draft of anything is sh*t.” So, I reworked and rephrased the words into something worthy. It wasn’t my best, but it was good—and I submitted it.

Inside, a spark of happiness started to shimmer. That spark fanned into a flame with a warmth that fueled my heart and soul. I knew then that it didn’t matter what their response was; I was going to continue to write. It feels good—it fulfills me.

The end of this story is the beginning of a new one. Elephant journal accepted my application. Here’s to the next soundtrack in my life!

What has been stewing inside of you?
Listen. Take space, and really listen.

Any patterns there?
Dare to define them.

Do something about it.
Brainstorm.

Break through fear, and try.
It may just work this time.

The world needs what only you have to offer.
It’s time to press play on your own new soundtrack.

 

~

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