Patrick Ward words, code, and music

Willing Is Not Enough; We Must Do

Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do. — Goethe

It’s another advice column today.

I can hear the whimpers already. “Why!!” they cry, “What happened to the quirky, twisted blogs posts?”

Well, if you will all settle down, I’ll explain. You see, I’ve spent the last couple of nights exploring what it means to be an author in today’s marketplace. I’ve been going to meetups, listening in on webinars, reading blogs from successful authors, and trying to understand the self-publishing market. It’s clear to me now, that I have a tremendous amount to learn about this industry. Creating the book, whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, is just part of the process.

Normally, this is where I’d start getting overwhelmed. I would typically spend the next few months trying to learn the market, buying marketing guru packages, and writing up plans for taking over the world. In the end, I’d usually give up and go back to watching reruns of MythBusters. Raise your hand if you’ve done this. See, I’m not nearly alone on that as I thought.

It’s not going to happen this time. I’ve learned a valuable lesson, and it’s a direct result of the last 21 days of writing this blog.

The lesson is this: Nothing happens without first creating the content. I don’t care how many “full-proof” strategy products I buy, they won’t mean a thing unless I have something of value to produce.

Which brings me to the quote at the top of this entry. No matter what it is you’re thinking of doing, be it writing a novel, producing a new service, developing a new product, or creating a new artistic masterpiece, unless you start to do something towards that goal, none of it will happen. Believe me, I’ve spent years dreaming up an incredible life for myself. Dreams are great, but there’s another lesson you have to understand before your fingers are going to be able to reach out and touch them.

The truth is, you don’t have to know everything to get started. All you need to do is start.

Take this blog, for example. Right now, it’s an amorphous jumble of warped words floating around in cyberspace, confusing all who show up here looking for some kind of organized truth. Sorry folks, it’s a work in progress.

You see, before I started this blog I had this fuzzy idea that I needed to have at least 30 ideas before it was even worth beginning. I made the mistake of reading somebody else’s suggestion that I shouldn’t even start unless I had an entire warehouse full of concepts and themes to work with.

To that I say, bull! Because in a way, that advice gave me the excuse to keep holding back. It did me more harm than good.

I did the opposite, I took some different advice and decided to boldly (or stupidly) go forth and produce 30 posts in 30 days without any idea of what I was going to write about. A month ago, I would have told you that was the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard; there’s no way I could do that. Yet, action speaks louder than doubt in this case. When I look back now, I think it’s fair to say I’ve had a decent amount of creativity explode on these pages in the last few weeks. I’m not overly proud of all of it, but I am supremely proud that I’ve been able to come to this place each night and spew forth entries that have been at times humorous, sad, puzzling, and sometimes just weird, but always creative.

I’ve learned more by doing, than I ever did by daydreaming and wishing.

As for ideas, they’re starting to flow into me daily. I can’t stop them. The act of doing has produced a fire-hose of creativity, tempered only by the short amount of time I have each night to write these quick posts.

Yes, but you ask: This blog seems aimless at times, how are you going to build a target audience? The only way I’m going to build an audience, is for me to be authentic in the first place. And right now, that means exploring themes, stories, and memories that move me emotionally. Eventually, there may be some common themes and possibly a genre of fiction that I find I’m most comfortable writing in, but it’s not so important right now. In fact, the blog may not be the most important writing project in the future.

What is important, for this moment, is that I have begun something, and that has made all the difference.

So, whatever it is your dreams are made of, do me a favor and just start. Don’t think about it. Don’t try and plan it all out and figure out every last detail. Just start, because somewhere in the act of doing you’ll find the magic you need to complete it.