Don’t Know What You’re Doing? Do It Anyway

One of my all time favorite quotes is by soon to be Saint Teresa of Calcutta (Sept 4, 2016).

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.  Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.  Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.  Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.  Be honest and sincere anyway.

What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.  Create anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.  Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, will often be forgotten.  Do good anyway.

Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.  Give your best anyway.

In the final analysis, it is between you and God.  It was never between you and them anyway.

Yes, I realize she was talking about virtue and how to live a Christian life, however this same attitude can be applied to writing.

Recently, another writer confessed to me that they had no idea what they were doing in regards to the mechanics of their current project.

My first thought came back to the quote – Do it anyway.

No one knows what they are doing when they first start out. Yes, they may have educated themselves on the subject. But, learning how to do something and doing it for the first time are miles apart. It takes time and practice to get really good at anything.

Yikes! Did I do that?

I cringe at some of the things I did first starting out. Way back when I was 18 or 19, I had this great idea for an historical romance. Mind you, I had never written a novel nor did I know how to write one. But, I had read a ton of books and knew how to write one in theory. So, I located a book about how to contact editors and pitch my novel. Of course, I had my cart before the horse and even though a few editors showed interest, I didn’t get a writing contract. Shocking, I know.

It was a similar story for when I got into magazine writing. I had no idea what I was doing and did it anyway. This time, though I succeeded in part. My first magazine has some grammatical errors that annoy me to no end. But, if I had waited until I knew what I was doing, I wouldn’t have had the success that I’ve had in that area of my writing.

I won’t go into how awful it was when I started my first paralegal job. Do it anyway wasn’t an option, it was expected. If I didn’t know how to do something, I better dang learn how and quick. Avoiding being screamed at and/or fired is a strong motivator.

With writing, the motivation to NOT do anything is strong. If you don’t do anything, you can’t fail, you can’t get singed, you can’t be rejected. So how do you get past that?

Go toward the shiny!

But, I might fail. So? Do it anyway.

Because, you might also succeed. You won’t know until you contact that editor or write that novel or go to that writers conference dressed in a red cape. The worst that will ever happen, is that you’ll be told no. Yes, it kinda sucks, but you’ll get over it. Evaluate what worked and what didn’t and try again. Trust me, rejection doesn’t hurt so bad when you’re focused on the excitement of the next new shiny project or contact or whatever. Don’t wallow in the rejection, move on.

Learn to love the fire!

But, I don’t know what to do? So? Do it anyway.

Jump into each new project with both feet. Don’t give yourself time to think about what you don’t know. Who cares what you don’t know. When you look at all of the people who have succeeded in writing or whatever, they did so their way. Most of the time, their success was by accident. They wouldn’t have had that success if they hadn’t been out their doing things they didn’t know how to do. I have read about a popular writer who sent handwritten manuscripts to editors in empty cereal boxes. It worked for that person.

Find out what works for you. Don’t be afraid to break rules. Yup, you’re going to get singed sometimes, but it only burns for a little while. You’re never going to please everyone so don’t bother trying. Put on your flame retardant Wonder Woman or Superman PJs and jump into that fire.

Bring along a friend!

But, what if people don’t like me? So? Do it anyway.

Get used to it. Not everyone is going to like you. Forget about them. Their opinion doesn’t matter.

Find one solid trustworthy friend that believes in you and drag them along for the ride. They’ll thank you for it. Especially if that person is another writer and you reciprocate in-kind. Friends are awesome when it comes to getting help or when you need a shove off the cliff. They are there to commiserate with when you fail and to celebrate when you succeed.


There are my tips. What’s your favorite tip to “Do it anyway”?


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