No matter what your goals are in life, you’re going to encounter obstacles.
If you want to become a doctor, for instance, your list of hurdles might include:
- Pulling good grades in high school
- Nailing the SAT
- Getting into a good college
- Financing college
- Getting good grades in college
- Nailing the MCAT
- Getting into med school
- Financing med school
- Surviving med school
- Finding a good residency
- Not killing too many people
- Getting a job
Whew! And that’s just the obvious stuff. To these, you can add complicating factors like bad girlfriends, commute time if you study or work in a city, hangovers from undergrad parties, hangovers from grad school parties, fatigue from too many extracurricular activities, intense elective courses that sap your energy and suck your time, and on and on and on.
Milestones or Obstacles?
That’s a whole heap of obstacles standing between you and your stethoscope … maybe you should just give up? Not on your life!
If your dream is to be a doctor, then you’ll make it happen, obstacles be damned.
The first step here is to realize that most of the items in the first list above are more properly viewed as a series of milestones. They’re not really blocking you from becoming a doctor but are instead preparing you to become a doctor.
That second set, though? And the financial burden of college and med school? Now those are obstacles. But while you have to deal with some of them head-on — hello, Mr. Student Loans — you have the power to obliterate most of them.
Have a history of hooking up with the “wrong kind of girl”? Put off dating until you’re further along in your training.
Do you tend to drink too much at parties? Um, don’t go to parties.
And, yes, that’s easy for me to say since I’m asking you to make changes, but the point is that many roadblocks in life are within your control.
Life Doesn’t Want You to Write
The same goes for writing.
Let’s say you want to write and self-publish a book this year. Between now and then, you’re going to have to deal with:
- Picking a topic
- Writing your first draft
- Editing your first draft
- Getting your book professionally edited
- Revising your book based on first edits
- Going back for another round of edits
- Developing or buying a cover for your book
- Formatting your book for publication
- Publishing your book on the major platforms (Kindle, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, etc.)
- Promoting your book
As with the example of our aspiring doctor above, there are plenty of obstacles that will slide in between these major milestones and try to trip you up. For instance, maybe …
- You decide to undertake a home improvement project that eats up all of your weekends for six months.
- You start a new fitness regimen that requires you to double your gym time.
- You start dating a new girl and spend your evenings in “woo” mode.
- A significant family member passes away.
- Your child decides to pick up a new sport, and you’re on the hook for driving him to practice every day.
- You take several vacations throughout the year and don’t write during any of that time away.
Pick Your Writing Fate
Clearly, you have to hit your milestones if you want to actually publish your book, but, once again, you have the power to kill many of the real obstacles in your path.
If your book is truly important, building a deck can wait.
Is it more important to enter your first marathon than to write your first book? Only you can decide that.
Ask your new friend if you can scale back a bit on your dating schedule.
Again, it’s all up to you.
Will you ruthlessly nuke the obstacles in your control, or will you let them slay your writing goals?