I’ve been seeing a therapist since September. He’s been doing the difficult task of helping me break the habits of isolation that come from a lifetime of social phobia. He’s good at what he does. He often has concrete suggestions, both for social challenges I face every day at work, as well as unexpected stumbling blocks that crop up as I begin to get more engaged in my community. I could say a lot about this, and I guess I probably will in a future blog post. But this post isn’t about that. It’s about the impact he’s had on this blog, and a conversation I had with him on Wednesday.
The biggest way my therapist helped with this blog is that, a month ago, on October 18, 2017, he suggested I begin writing again every day. It was a long overdue suggestion, and the next day I started writing the daily journal that turned into this blog. From the first day I wrote that journal, I knew I wanted to start this blog, but also knew there had to be a distinction between the journal and the blog. I knew there would be times when I needed to get something off my chest that might not be of interest to else. But I also believed that some of my private thoughts would be of value to other people, just as other people’s writings about self-improvement have been so valuable to me. Now that I’m entering into a phase of conscious self-improvement in so many ways, I find I have a lot to say. So I started this blog a couple of weeks after I started the journal.
I’ve already written about the synergistic nature of some of the things I’ve been working on. I’ve written about how the desire to begin writing again has fueled my aim to complete a very-long-in-progress computer game, a video trailer for it, a bunch of paintings, and thorough cleaning of part of my house.
Now the synergy I see is this: in writing this blog, I get not just one thing, but two.
The first thing I’m getting is an opportunity to tell people about the countless ways in which I’ve been trying to improving myself over the past two or three months. It’s a story I want to share.
Meanwhile, as I’ve looked down the road to what my plans should be for the coming years, I’ve been thinking about the book I want to write, and I’ve started reading that today’s book publishers are hesitant to publish a book from an author who doesn’t have a blog or a social media presence. It’s not exactly an encouraging thing to hear, but on the other hand, I get it. Book publishers can only do so much when it comes to promoting an author. If, in getting the word out about a new author, they not only have to compete with a lot of other messages in our media-drenched landscape, but also have to do so without any Internet presence or helpful personal connections on the part of that author, that’s got be discouraging from their point of view.
And if it’s true that this blog might be of use to such a future publisher, I wanted to find out how. It’s lucky, therefore, that I was recently in contact with a book coach who was kind enough to recommend some links to get me pointed in the right direction, and one thing she recommended was the book Be the Gateway by Dan Blank. It’s not a book about marketing in any usual sense of the word. Instead, it encourages people who do creative work to engage more passionately with their work and the way it connects with their audience, and then share with that audience the process of creating that work. I found this to be good advice, and it encouraged me, because it’s what I want to do anyway with this blog.
Long story short, therefore, the second thing I may get from this blog is — well, I don’t know. Dan Blank says that if I am public, open, engaging in the way that I already want to share my story, then I’m going to get readers, and those readers will help when the time comes to publish a book. That’s a simplification, but I find it encouraging, so I’m going to go with it.
These are the things I told to my therapist on Wednesday. He didn’t get it. He thought that, because I was thinking about positive long-term outcomes of way I want to share my story, therefore I’m going to do a bad job of sharing my story. I disagree with him, and I’ll tell him so soon.
And yet, on the other hand, I’ve made an observation that I can’t ignore. The observation is — well, let me explain.
I often spend more time listening to podcasts than I do reading. Up until a week ago I was listening to a podcast that really inspires me — it’s called The One You Feed, and it’s all about how you can improve the quality of your life by making the right choices on a day-to-day, minute-to-minute basis. I’ve been binge-listening through the back catalog, and it’s been fueling me as I work on getting back into the practice of writing, engaging with my community, and living better.
Then, for a few days, I started listening to Dan Blank’s podcast, Dabblers vs. Doers. I found it filled with a lot of valuable information, but I also found it a bit discouraging to be listening to authors who were way more active and successful than me. Even if the whole point of the episode was to take me through the process of how they got to be successful, the mere fact that the authors used a lot of publishing jargon to describe the process made me feel alienated.
During the days that followed, I didn’t get any writing done. Mostly I was just being lazy, but I suppose it’s possible that some of it is because I’d let my attention drift away from what I find inspiring and replenishing.
So my observation is, I need to keep myself fueled with things that fire my passion for my creative work. And it’s that that’s most important.
In fact, even if you looked at it from the narrowly interested perspective of the book publisher who might be interested in publishing my future book, even then those things that inspire me would still be what’s most important to that end.
And incidentally, none of that is remotely contradictory to Dan Blank’s book. On the contrary, I think he’d be agreeing with me. I’ll keep listening to his podcast and reading his book.
In the meantime, I’ll also keep listening to and reading things that fuel my creativity in a more direct way.
But most of all, I’ll stop being lazy and get back to writing.