You’re going to fail.

The bigger your audience becomes or the more comments your received on your last post or the more retweets your tweets got, the more people will disagree with you.

You’ll get more haters too and people who never seemed interested in your work before will come out of the woodwork and tell you every single thing you are doing wrong. They’ll probably not be very nice about it either.

You have two choices as I see it.  Continue reading

How being lazy helped me write more.

I haven’t written a blog like this in a while. One in which I lay out in a carefully detailed plan how I am so creative and able to construct sentences that produce such strong emotions in people that they can’t but help themselves to a click on their twitter share button. Or maybe just go “meh”!

But recently I have discovered something in how I write that may or not be helpful to you. I discovered that when it comes to many things I can be pretty lazy. I can procrastinate like no other. But I think I have found a way to make my laziness work in my favor.

Let me explain.                                                       

If I am lying upstairs on my bed watching the latest episode of Portlandia or Hannibal  and I realize I have left my phone downstairs, those stairs become a mammoth trek of survival and self discovery and to be perfectly honest my bed is pretty comfy and cosy so forget that. Or if I have chocolate and I want to eat it but at the same time I don’t want to eat it, I will simply put it into Britt’s drawer on her side of the bed. Again, a matter of feet becomes a hundred mile journey and that will be enough to resist the tempting lure of chocolate. 

Yes, I’m that lazy.

Also, American chocolate’s not that great.

So I got to thinking how this could work in my favor when writing. When I sit down to write I come face to face with procrastination or resistance as Stephen Pressfield calls it. The internet is my resistance. I will check my emails accounts, then check a couple of online communities that I am part of, then Facebook and then Twitter. A whole two minutes later and I will repeat the process. Unsurprisingly, not enough has changed in the world in that time to warrant such excessive checking.

Thankfully I have a new system in place. I have two online productivity tools that I will tell you about in a minute which have saved my life.

But first, what is my real problem? Is it laziness or something else? Well actually, I think it is both.

I love to write. I even want to write. I wake up some mornings and have the insatiable desire to write. Then I try and nothing really happens and I click refresh. That’s on a good day. But what this tells me is that there is something worth pursuing here and it’s worth fixing. So I ask myself, what if I didn’t have the internet?

What if I am upstairs and I didn’t have the internet to tempt me from writing? Well as I have established I am pretty lazy so even if I am upstairs without the internet I am unlikely to go looking for something downstairs. My problem is not so much that I don’t want to write but that when faced with the choice of writing or doing anything else, I will choose almost 100% of the time, something else

So I remove the internet.

Now before anyone starts panicking, don’t worry you still have access to FB and Twitter and can still send me countless annoying farmville invites.

But I block the internet for myself. Using these two great tools. Leachblock for firefox and Waste No Time for Safari. They’re both amazing and have literally saved my life and helped with a few writing deadlines. I can block the internet for specific time periods everyday. Sometimes I purposefully leave my phone downstairs do I don’t have the distraction. Sometimes I tell myself that I need the internet for research but usually that’s a sneaky way of saying I need to see what kind of things are topical so I can write about them. But that’s not good for anyone, believe me.

There’s always an excuse.

So with a double tag team of laziness to go somewhere else and the removal of options to distract me, I can get to work. Removing any other options leaves me wanting and able to write and I can feel like I have worked. Which helps me feel good, which motivates me next time I need to write.

Sometimes I need to get out of the house to write but even then I’m too lazy to go home and so end up writing more.

Maybe you’re not as lazy as me and that’s ok. I don’t judge you. Be thankful that you aren’t like me.

For the rest of us though, lazy is OK. It can be your friend and can be used to your advantage. Resistance is sneaky but you can be sneakier.

So get writing, or building, or creating. Whatever it is you do.

Just be lazy.

 

Being unemployed.

indexSince moving to Detroit in November I have been unemployed. For the first few months this was ok. Britt and I had saved before we came and we very generously helped out by family here and back in Ireland. Britt has since found a job and we are still not starving.

We were getting used to our new life, me for the first time living in the USA and for Britt, the first time since she was 18 (She’s now 24).

We knew it was the right thing for us to do and we knew that we would miss people terribly. The first couple of months though were easy and we both, despite missing folk and our church community, were enjoying getting used to new things. Like access to Chillis anytime we want. Or a million different varieties of pop tarts.

In the last month or so however I think we both hit a wall when it came to being here. We weren’t sad that we were here or regretting the move, instead we began to miss our home in Ireland very much.

People, family, Belfast, decent pints of Guinness. (Although I suspect that’s just me).

Before we left I struggled with the job that I had and believed that I was made to do something else. I got very comfortable and didn’t really try and get out of it. I had a regular income, Britt and I never starved and I was probably too frightened to step out. As a result of my job I also had some issues with my self worth. I looked down on myself because I thought that others would look down on me too. Simply because of the job I held or where I imagined other people my age were in their lives. Facebook can be a killer in this respect. Rather than motivating me to look for something else, it actually made me more and more afraid. So I stalled and stayed where I was.

Two things then, that I have learned from the past few months being unemployed.

1. Just because I didn’t have a job I went to everyday didn’t mean I couldn’t work. Other than the obvious and tedious job hunting, I have spent the time writing more consistently than I ever had and I have been reading more. I decided to teach myself coding and I have thrown myself into the work I do with xxxchurch and x3groups. Yeah, there have been times where I have gotten cabin fever but if I don’t have a job I still have a choice. I can still work.

2.  Before the move, my self worth was based on the job I had. This wasn’t really my self worth though. My self worth wasn’t my job but rather what people thought of my job. Even then, that wasn’t the end because it wasn’t so much what people thought of my job, but what people thought of me. Admittedly most of this was probably in my head and my own insecurities. I imagined that if I felt this way about myself then others must to.

The longer we have been here and the longer I have been unemployed here those insecurities have started to creep into being unemployed. The embarrassment in having to tell people I still haven’t found a job. Or maybe that too is all in my head.

But the big lesson I have learned from these last few months isn’t so much to do with my job or lack of but with where I place my value.

Where I get that deep inner peace. Do I get it from a job or do I get it from something higher? Am I liked because I have a job that looks good?

These are questions I have struggled with and in doing so have come to the conclusion that if I place my value in those things then I will always be left disappointed. Instead when I start to place my value in my inherent worth because I am loved, I have found that less and less I measure my value by what people think of me.

It actually doesn’t matter what people think of me one way or another. I can release myself from the pressure of finding the perfect job because no longer is that an indicator of my value. I can stop forcing myself to act a certain way around people because their affirmation is not what gives me life.

When I do this I realize that there is more to life than constantly arguing with myself that my life is worthwhile through others opinions. Ironically, it is that type of attitude that drains life from me.

So maybe for you it’s your job or your looks or how smart you are. It could be the successes or failures in your life that shape how you see yourself.

My prayer for you is that you see yourself as someone who is worthy of being loved. Simply because you are you. Because you were created with beauty. Not because of what you do.

It’s a simple prayer that takes guts and work.

Thankfully though, your work isn’t the whole you.

There is a bit of Dougal in all of us.

father-dougal-mcguireResistance doesn’t think, “how can I use the fear of failure or the fear of success to stall her from working.”

It thinks, “how can I use the fear of failure and the fear of success.”

If we were afraid of only failure then we would be able to justify working using success. So if I think “I might look stupid but at least I could help one person see something fresh”, then it’s worth it.

So resistance evolves to include the fear of success too.

“If this goes well I may be asked to take on more responsibility, which I’m not ready for” or
“If this post gets people talking and coming back I’ll need to write something just as good or even better”.

Notice how the fear of success quickly turns into the fear of failure.

We might need to come up with other great ideas, or we might need to surprise ourselves.

The good news is that this frees us up to be generous. When we focus on the potential failure or success we are focusing mainly on ourselves. We’re afraid of looking stupid or getting people’s hopes up and then feeling stupid when we let them down or make a mistake.

The antithesis to this is generosity where the only goal is to give without expectation of anything in return. You can’t feel stupid if you don’t care.

I can write a blog post that resonates with people and that’s fantastic so I work to make that happen again. But I do so by simply doing the work and putting it out there because it’s the right thing to do.

Whether it connects or not isn’t so important; it’s part of the active strategy to keep being generous.

Surprisingly though when we keep doing that, eventually something sticks. Something you write encourages someone or even better, the hope to do their own work. If you stop being generous eventually you’ll become so self obsessed and paralyzed with fear that you stop working altogether.

And your work is far too important to us to let that happen.

Matthew McConaughey: Winners and workers.

Image

Last night Matthew McConaughey won the award for the best Actor at the Golden Globes. The Golden Globes are generally considered an accurate indicator for the winners at the Academy Awards.

He has received plaudits for his role as a homophobic aids patient in Dallas Buyers’s Club and now is winning best actor awards. His new tv show True Detectives has also been getting a lot of attention.

But this is the same Matthew McConaughey who made Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. Which wasn’t very good. The same Matthew McConaughey who is famous for making average Romantic comedies in the 90’s or taking his top off or winning most sexiest man alive awards.

These are the kind of things he is famous for. Continue reading

The greatest lesson I learned about being creative.

Sitting down everyday to write and facing a blank page is one of the hardest things to do as a writer. There is so much space to fill and so little to fill it with. If you face a blank canvass you can be sure that resistance will come along and fill it for you.

Anything to stop you creating.

There is one way to beat resistance. Continue reading