Monday’s Writerly Quote

This quote I ran into while reading some Spiritual Feng Shui for the Day over at This Psychic Life. It’s from Lemony Snicket. Although the end of his series was super disappointing, the ride was still a good one. Anyway, here’s the quote:

If we wait until we’re ready, we’ll be waiting for the rest of our lives.

I know I kind of touched on this last week, but it’s still important to remember. And it applies to all facets of life, not just writing. The thing is, when you’re doing something crazy and adventurous in life, sometimes you’re going to want to feel ready for it.

I’ll query this book out when I’m ready. I’ll try for that new job when I’m ready. I’ll ask the hottie who lives down the road out as soon as I’m ready.

That’s not to say we should do things too early. You certainly don’t want to pull a cake out of the oven too early (flat cake is super disappointing) nor should you query a manuscript that isn’t ready. The kind of waiting I’m talking about is really fear of rejection waiting. There’s a time to prepare and there’s a time to do. Don’t spend so much time preparing you never get to doing.

What? Let you read my story? Eeek!

It’s like the people who say they’ll go to the gym as soon as they get in shape. Going to the gym is what gets you in shape. Sure, there will be jerks who laugh at you because you’re bigger than you’d like to be, but honestly the majority of people who see you there will respect you for coming to get in shape. Besides, that logic never made sense to me. I’ll go work out as soon as I’ve worked out. Huh? (I know, they mean to do it in private, but they’re not.)

Take a look in your life and see if there aren’t any areas where you’re waiting because you’re actually afraid vs. trying to be ready enough. And some things you just have to suck at to get any better at them.

Plus I think sometimes we just get comfortable where we’re at. Sure, I like writing stories, but I’ll share them with others when I get better at writing (I used to have this attitude). See what I mean? Got to be adventurous sometimes too. Make sure if you’re waiting until you’re ready it’s really that you’re preparing and not hiding.

What do you think about it? Were there times in your life you were waiting to get ready but really you were just too afraid to be adventurous? What would you say to those who are waiting? How do you know the difference between actually preparing and waiting because you’re afraid? Let us know below.

16 thoughts on “Monday’s Writerly Quote

  1. I’m remembering the scene from Spaceballs where Dark Helmet says to Colonel Sanders, ‘Preparing, preparing! You’re always preparing! Just go!’
    One of my favorite scenes because most people I’ve met are like that. In fact, I think everyone has a stage of their life where they try to wait until they’re ready for a step. It’s what taking risk is all about.

  2. β€œIt’s a great lesson about not being too precious about your writing. You have to try your hardest to be at the top of your game and improve every joke you can until the last possible second, and then you have to let it go. You can’t be that kid standing at the top of the waterslide, overthinking it…You have to let people see what you wrote.”
    ― Tina Fey, Bossypants

    I’m bad for that. I mean, it’s not jokes for me, but I want my work to be perfect before I let anyone see it. Problem is, it’s never going to be perfect. Never.

    I think what you do about this depends on your personality. Some people can handle being thrown into a nightmare situation; say you want to be a stand-up comedian, and you get up there and just do it, you flop, you get heckled. If you can handle that, you can handle anything, right?

    But if you’re like me, that would turn you off of ever trying again, so you start small. You show your writing to people you trust to be gentle in their criticism, and you realize that you can take it. Then you show it to a helpful stranger who doesn’t hold back, and it hurts, but you realize they’re right, and you go on from there.

    Either approach can work, it just depends on who you are. πŸ™‚

    As to knowing the difference… I can’t help with that. I’ll be sure I’m ready, it’s time to go for it, and then I realize that I could do better. But I could go on like this forever, so I don’t know. Where do you draw that line?

    • I think it’s brave step by brave step. That’s why I always recommend letting family and friends read your stuff first (they’re typically soft) before going onto CPs. And agents will always be hardcore honest with their feedback. I think you just have to examine your situation and decide if you’re holding back because it’s wise or holding back because you’re a chicken. I’m always trying to balance that.

  3. I’ve been told by multiple doctors this year I need to lose weight or I am on the doorstep of bad things.
    I know I should start trying to do so, but the crux is that I also nearly broke my back in January and am in PT for it.
    I don’t know if I fall into afraid to get moving or waiting to be ready, but either way, maybe I should ignore the PT and get going?

    I do know that moving laundry from the washer to the dryer causes me to need rest time, as does standing in one spot for more than a few minutes.
    This is my daily conundrum.

    • Sounds like you need to ease into it, make little changes daily. A lot of my friends are runners and they say the thing with running is you can’t just all of a sudden run a marathon without doing serious damage to yourself. You’ve got to build it up over a period of time. I think getting into shape is the same way.

      • Sound advice.Thanks for taking the time for it!
        I think I will start out doing something, it might ease the back pain too?

        Time to get losing 70 pounds.

        • You can do it. And exercise can definitely help with back pain. Do something fun, that way you’ll keep doing it. But ease into it, like prepping for a marathon. You’ll get there.

  4. I did not know this quote before reading your post but that is the attitude that pushes me to write late at night and go to writers’ conferences.

    (It’s also what was going through my mind when I went skydiving.)

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