Monday, January 2, 2012

In Two Days—Tomorrow Will Be Yesterday. So Make Today Count!

Sometimes it’s oh so easy to give up on your dreams, whether you’re an artist, entertainer, actor, performer, or writer.  You don’t seem to get the breaks or you keep shooting yourself in the foot or maybe you just don’t have what it takes to succeed, so you toss in the towel or move on . . . . Too often it’s just a matter of giving up too soon or not hanging in there long enough.  Yeah, it can be discouraging, but you just never know what’s on the other side of that brick wall that’s designed to stop you.  Randy Pausch spoke about this in his Last Lecture

The question you should be asking yourself is not when is this going to happen, but how can you make it happen? What do you need to do today—yes today and not tomorrow!—that will take you a step closer?  If you’re not sure, try mindstorming, or brainstorming on your own.  Mindstorm is a success-driven technique whereby you pose a question of your desire or a problem that you wish to solve and then write down 20 answers or 20 ways to move forward, and keep going until you reach 20! 

Often it’s that last one, an obvious solution that you have overlooked, like doing some research, or plotting an outline, or printing out your manuscript and editing it on paper (and away from internet temptations!), or committing to working on it a half-hour a day if that is all the time you can spare, or consider waking up an hour early and working on it while the house is quiet and the everyone is still a sleep.

Another suggestion is just to get mad at yourself for not keeping your commitments, or acknowledging the truth—even if the truth hurts—that maybe you’re not doing enough to help yourself.  Yeah, you want success bad enough, but so does everyone else, but are you willing to do what it takes?  Naturally, we’ll say, yes, of course, I’m willing to do what it takes.  If that’s the truth, then ask yourself, is that what you’re doing right now?  Is that what you have been doing this past week?  This past month?  This past year?  Right about now we start to rationalize or recite our favorite excuses about work or family or time commitments. 

We don’t hold our feet to the fire.  Instead we let ourselves off the hook and say something lame like, well if you were in my position…or maybe, it just wasn’t meant to be…or that others just got “lucky”.  I don’t think so.

To start this New Year right—a Leap Year at that—you got to take responsibility for your own actions, simple as that.  You got to say, well that was last year.  Yeah, I let myself down, but this is a new year, a fresh start to set things right.  This is what I’m going to do differently this year.  These are the steps I’m going to take starting today.  These are the commitments I’m going to make.  

Write them down now, while the thought is there…

For me, I always seem to get myself fired up when that first novel contest of the year, Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award makes its announcement. (Update: one novel just made it to Round Two 2012, so far.)  Don’t know how I missed the first two, but when the third one came around, I made sure I had a novel ready. Then last year, I got an early start and began rewriting my novels in November.  This year, well today’s the day.  Tomorrow is already too late!  You know what they say about tomorrow.  In two days, tomorrow will be yesterday. 

That’s a sad thought.  So unless you want to turn your tomorrows into yesterdays, then make today your day.  Ask yourself, what can I do right now, this very minute that will move me in the right direction, and then build on that momentum.  For me, I already began revising my pitch statements—start with something small, something manageable to get the ball rolling.  That’s all you need, a little momentum to get moving forward.  Then every day find a way to keep that momentum going, even if it’s only for half an hour.  Commit to this!  Pretty soon, you’ll start finding that extra time that you’ll need. 

Imagine if you did that every day, how this week, this month, this year will be very different from last year.  In fact this year could be your best year ever.   Just see the potential, make a plan, try some mindstorming, mind mapping, whatever works for you, and just go for it.  All the best for 2012! 
             --Borneo Expat Writer

Here are links to some of my author-to-author interviews of first novelists:

Ivy Ngeow author of Cry of the Flying Rhino, winner of the 2016 Proverse Prize.

Golda Mowe author of Iban Dream and Iban Journey.

Preeta Samarasan author of Evening is the Whole Day

Chuah Guat Eng,  author of Echoes of Silence and Days of Change. 


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