Through and through, I am a creature of habit. My planner is the most important purchase of the year and I thrive off my Sunday night organization session where I outline my upcoming week in multi-colored pens. I have certain habits for grocery shopping and laundry and when I like to study foreign languages.
These routines, much like running and writing, keep me grounded and focused. But at some point, routines can become too much. It isn’t until you’ve stepped outside of yourself for a day or a week that you notice how much you’ve missed. You know that feeling of taking a long weekend trip? Suddenly, Saturday seems to last forever as you forget about buying bananas and bread and focus on enjoying wherever you are.
All this is to say that while I appreciate some of the structures I’ve given my life, I can’t help but wonder what’s just outside the box. The new idea for Sunday blog posts is to write about one experience I had in the previous week that was out of routine, that wasn’t predictable, that made me think a little differently about myself and the world I live in.
Challenge 8: Pitch a Story
When I was in elementary school, I told people I wanted to be a writer. I also told people I wanted to be an artist, Dunkin Donuts worker, trombone player, and painter, but only the writer stuck. (Okay, and the Dunkin Donuts worker. That definitely stuck. Have you tried their blueberry cake donuts?)
As I went through high school and college, I still talked about writing as the ultimate goal, the ultimate dream. I always talked about it as some crazy out of reach idea. You know when you’re at a middle school sleepover talking about the crush that doesn’t know you exist? And you say things like, “well, I mean, obviously, the dream would be to go to the dance with Ryan from homeroom” in a far off way where everyone sighs and agrees it would be nice if Ryan from homeroom knew who you were.
That’s how, in many ways, writing became for me. I knew I wanted to write, but writing was like Ryan from homeroom. It was never actually going to happen but was fun to think about in the meantime.
Then the other day, we were talking about something in my apartment that seemed unlikely and I said, “is it actually happening or is it like when I say I’m going to publish a book but then do nothing to actually work on a book.” Self-deprecating humor was my minor in college.
When I made a list of things I wanted to focus on in a more serious way this year, I put writing at the top. I don’t mean my usual cop out of journaling or sending short stories or lines of poetry to my perpetual writing partner. I mean writing like writing with intent to publish. Writing beyond this Smile Project page. Writing for real.
That’s how I found myself pitching articles. That’s how I found myself editing and re-sending. That’s how I found myself panicking in an excited frenzy at the idea of really doing this instead of just talking about doing it.
For the longest time, I always assumed you had to be a certain age or have a certain experience or accomplish a certain number of “things” before you could write a book or publish an article or apply for a freelance opportunity. But there’s no better time than now.
If I waited until I felt like I was an expert, I would have never started posting about Happiness. If I waited until I felt qualified, I would have never built The Smile Project website. If I would have waited until I felt like I had everything together, I would have never branched out and morphed this crazy Happiness crusade into the nonprofit organization it is today.
The truth is, I’m not sure we’re ever really ready or perfectly prepared. But putting things off because of it is a sorry way to treat your dreams.
I did some research this week. I submitted a couple pitches. I sent in an article. It’s a small step, but even a shuffle moves you forward.
To having the courage to spin words into hope..