Monday, September 14, 2009

Tip #1 - Practicing

Many people – both native and non-native speakers - are afraid of writing.

I want to talk a minute about how writing something – anything - can you help you with your life and English.

When a person is afraid, they hold back.

And when they hold back, they stop doing one of the two most important things a person can do to get better at something.

"What are those things?" you ask.

I will tell you.

1. Practicing

2. Noticing

I'm going to talk about noticing in another post.

For now I want to talk about practicing.

If you want to dance better, you have to dance, right? You can't lie on the couch and watch "So You Think Can Dance." You can't watch "Flashdance" or music videos on MTV. You have to get up and dance. A lot.

If you want to be a good computer programmer, you can't sit at the computer and play video games. You can't watch Science Fiction movies. You have to learn computer programming languages and then you have to write a lot of computer programs. You spend hours and hours thinking about them, dreaming about them, and writing them.

(I know. I had a boyfriend who did that and then made a zillion dollars. Pretty good, hunh? Can writing do that, too? How about dancing? Hmmm.... )

It's the same with writing. If you want to write better, you have to write. A lot.

If you write but you are afraid to show people your writing, this is okay but not wonderful. Because the fear is in there. The fear is inside your head and your heart and it starts making your writing energy smaller and smaller and smaller.

If you write and you share it with other people, then the writing energy gets bigger and bigger and bigger and the fear starts getting smaller and smaller and smaller.

You start feeling looser and freer with your writing. It starts feeling more like play and less like work. And because you write more you start doing the noticing thing I was talking about.
But I'm not going to talk about that yet. That is for another post.

I'm going to talk about how writing more and being less afraid to share it with other people can help you do better in life - not just the writing part of life.

I'm going to talk about success.

Everyone wants it, right?

What do you have to do to succeed in life?

You have to work hard, yes. And it helps to be lucky. But what's that other thing?

You have to take risks.

You have to try to do something you might fail at.

You have to do things where you might look foolish. People might laugh at you.
People might find out you're not perfect.

(Of course, we all know you're not perfect because we're not perfect, either, but some people try to keep the imperfect thing a big secret. They try, anyway.)

And what else might happen?

You might win an Academy award.

You might win a Nobel prize.

You might become a wonderful mother, or save someone's life, or invent a cure for cancer.

And what helps you take risks?

Understanding nothing happens without risk.

Well, nothing good, anyway.


(What's stagnation? That's when everything stops moving - like your sink when it doesn't work, anymore. The water gets brown and stinky and you have to call your plumber or your landlord and they bring in a snake - no, not a real snake! - a plumber's snake! - and they stick the snake in the drain and jerk it around and there is a big glugging sound or maybe little gasping noises and then slowly or quickly the water goes down and things start moving again.)

Understanding nobody is perfect.

Understanding life is a spring which wants to spring forth and trying to stop is like trying to jam things down your sink.

Do you want a stinky sink? No!

You want a flowing spring, right?

(Hey! What's a spring, anyway?

It's rushing waters that push up out of the ground - fresh, clean, and pure.

And you want to be like that, right?

Full of energy? Good for yourself? Good for other people?



Of course, you do!

We all do, we just get nervous about things.


Because when the spring is flowing and things are happening we don't always know what is going to happen next.

And what is it the scariest thing in the whole, wide world?

Is it big, hairy spiders?

Is it long, skinny snakes?

Is it a natural disaster like an earthquake, hurricane, or a tsunami?

No, no, no, no, and no!

It's the... drumroll, please... the UNKNOWN!

Yes, we're all afraid of it!

If you say you're not, you're lying!

Okay, so we're all afraid sometimes.

Is it okay to be afraid?

Of course it is. Everyone is afraid. If they say they aren't, they're lying.

Wait, I already said that.

But maybe it's good to say it again.

We're all afraid of something.

We all struggle with fear of the unknown, fear of change (more unknow stuff), fear of losing the people we love (more unknown stuff), etc, etc, etc.

But if we keep the fear smaller than the courage, we're okay.

In other words, keep the water flowing.

Life, love, water, energy - whatever idea or picture or word you want to use, really, it's all the same thing.

Let it through you.

Don't try to stop it.

Don't try to control it.

Oh! Control! Something we all want and love!

Also something isn't really possible. Not really.

Go ahead. Try to control everything. As Dr. Phil would say, let me know how that works out for ya.

When we let things flow, the courage is bigger than the fear.

When you write, especially when you write and share it with other people, you're making the courage bigger and the fear smaller.

That's going to help you not just with your writing but with all the other parts of your life where you hold back.

Maybe you really want to ask your boss for a change in your job.

But you're afraid.

Maybe you really need to talk to your husband or wife or mother about something serious.

But you're afraid.

You hold back. You feel nervous inside. You feel resentful. You start getting mad about little things. Everything is their fault!

But really, where is the problem?

In you.

When you find the courage to go after what you want in life, things get easier.

Not easy.

I didn't say life is easy!

But it is easier to live life with courage than with fear.

Read or say that again because it's easy to read that fast and not believe it.

Okay, I'll help you.

I'm going to write it again:

It's easier to live life with courage than with fear.

Got that?

Fear is like a heavy weight tied to your ankle. You walk with a limp. You breathe hard. You trip and fall and land with a splat and break a tooth off. Sometimes you turn green and your hair falls out. Also you can't think straight.

Courage is like your own special music always playing in your heart. In the tough times, it helps you keep going.

And in the good times, it helps you dance.

Go dance.

(Looking for somewhere to share your writing? Try posting a comment here.
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