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Write your way into the unknown

When was the last time you did something that scared you? You know, the kind of thing where as soon as you’ve agreed to do it, you think ‘Oh god. What have I done? How can I get out of this? How am I going to do it? Why, oh why, did I sign up in the first place?!’

It’s a scary place. The knotted stomach, the feeling of fireworks going off inside your ribcage. Fear mixed with excitement and enthusiasm. You can see the glory, the wonder of flying on the winds, the sun warming your face as you soar towards greatness. Next moment you see the wax start to melt and you see yourself plummeting faster than Icarus.

These past couple of weeks I experienced this myself. I was asked to give a talk about copywriting at a meetup for marketers. I typed out my reply, ‘Yes, I’d love to do that…’ Committed. It made my heart beat faster. I could see the edge of my comfort zone and I had planted a foot firmly on the other side of that circle.

Here’s what it taught me about writing and creation

When we commit, when we edge beyond the limits of our comfort, something happens. The commitment takes on a life of its own. All of a sudden, the thing that we have agreed to do demands of us a whole new set of actions, behaviours, attitudes and skills. We’ve already decided to alter our course. Now we have to follow it.

And that reminded me of a quote. Not a quote about fear of the unknown, but a quote celebrating this very act. Often attributed to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the author in question was actually Scottish mountaineer, W.H. Murray:

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe's couplets:
‘Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!’”

What has all this got to do with writing?

I made a commitment by responding to an email, ‘yes please.’ I set my intentions down on paper. I wrote my future into being.

We all do this every day.

Writing isn’t only a force of creation, it’s an act of initiation too.

Think about it… we write proposals, contracts, mission statements; our political parties create manifestos (debatable as to whether those promises come into being!); we ink our name on the dotted line; we sign the marriage register…

Each of those things signals a beginning.

Every day we write our own future. It’s scary. It’s often a risk to step outside of the familiar and into the unknown. And never did this feel truer than when I saw that the event organiser had published the event online. Shared it on LinkedIn, invited people along.

I had set the wheels in motion, and it was taking on a life of its own.

Now I have to write the rest of the story. I have to deliver. I have to adopt working practices, habits, a new mindset and rely on my skills to complete what I have started.

What are you creating? What can you write into being?

We all have opportunities to initiate things, to create. What are you creating at the moment? Do you have any ideas lingering in the back of your mind that you’re itching to initiate?

Writing isn’t only a tool of initiation and creation. It’s a support too, a way to explore.

Try this…

These writing prompts will help you organise your thoughts and, if nothing else, explore an idea. Hopefully they will enable you to get going, to write your own future into being.

  • What I really want to say is…

  • I’d love to try…

  • The thing I really want to find out is…

  • I want to know what it feels like to….

I’d love to hear how you get on with the exercises. Feel free to write (!) and let me know. I’ll keep you posted with how the preparation for my talk is going. If you’re a marketer, or if you’re interested in marketing, take a look at the event. You can read my talk blurb and sign up to come along via Eventbrite or Meetup.

Happy writing!

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