Getting Shit Done Writing

Learn to tolerate discomfort

Liked Advice on starting projects (and sticking with them) by Mason Currey (Subtle Maneuvers)

Looking back, I think one of my biggest problems as a writer has been a hesitancy to commit to ideas. I’ve spent a lot of time waiting for the “right” idea to come along, when I would have been so much better off just starting on (and sticking with) something, anything.

You could call this perfectionism, I suppose, but I think it’s really about fear. You’re afraid that when you start writing one of these story ideas it’s not going to live up to your ambitions.

So, part of the solution is not being so precious about ideas and accepting that they’re just a starting point. The other part—maybe the bigger part—is learning to tolerate discomfort. Is that, in fact, the most important skill for any writer? It might be. Because so much of the process is just really, really uncomfortable. It requires butting up against your own shortcomings over and over and over.

Honestly learning to live with and work through discomfort is probably one of the most useful skills, period 🤔 Setting boundaries, taking risks, confronting racism, learning from your mistakes, training for sports or practicing for music… My cross-country coach in HS used to remind us all the time of the philosophy of one of his great runners, Richie Boulet: ‘there is no pain.’ I, being neither disciplined to withstand discomfort nor athletically ambitious, took solace in bitching to myself ‘there *is too* pain’ as I ran, which was not a particularly useful way to think 😂

Now, to hold both this and the philosophy of not being mean to yourself to get things done 👍

By Tracy Durnell

Writer and designer in the Seattle area. Freelance sustainability consultant. Reach me at She/her.

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