For this week’s blog I swap my writers hat for my my psychology hat blog and take a shot at explaining why we too often avoid what we really want. So please stay with me as I build some thoughts for you. Questions: What is the opposite of SIMPLE? Can you go with COMPLEX? Good, now what is a word you associate with SIMPLE? How about EASY. Take a deep breath and answer me this: If SIMPLE is the opposite of COMPLEX, does that mean then that EASY is also the opposite of COMPLEX? The answer (if you haven’t already shook your head) is NO. So what then is the opposite of EASY? Let’s go with DIFFICULT.
If you’re staying with me this far (thank you!) we’ve established two pairs of words as opposites: SIMPLE and COMPLEX—EASY and DIFFICULT. After I promise you that this is going someplace, I want to ask you to characterize the difference between the sets of words. Here’s a hint: Deciding that a task is SIMPLE/COMPLEX is intellectual and theoretical. It involves our knowing and understanding the task. Further, deciding that the task is EASY/DIFFICULT is first emotional, then practical and leads to doing or performing the task. So we know if a task is going to be Simple or Complex. But we first feel then realize by doing that the task is Easy or Difficult.
Here’s where it begins to come home. How many of us know what to do but just don’t do it? Like every one of us? Do we berate ourselves because we “know better” and yet did not act on our wisdom? Just how complex is it to understand that smoking is bad for our health (and how bad we smell!) and that we should stop? You know the next question: How easy is it to stop?
Wait a minute … if we can understand it, shouldn’t we be able to do it?
Okay, so just understanding something doesn’t necessarily mean we can do it. I got that.
Is writing a book complex? Since most of you have tried it, how easy is it to actually do?
Where am I going with these word games? I just want you to begin to understand why it is that folks who know how to do something can’t do it. You’ve heard it, “Boy am I dumb—it’s so simple! I should be able to do it.” What they forget is that knowing and doing involve two separate sets of skills—one intellectual and the other emotional.
Learning to write involves both of these stages. At first the whole process seems to be more complex than you thought, but then as you study it further it becomes simple—or at least simpler. Then you are at the point where you actually have to do it. Here comes the point--that which is simple to understand is difficult to do. The good news is that when you try it, you practice it, you stick to it awhile and it becomes easier.
Come on, kids … my little lesson here is not going to magically make you fearless, emotional giants with all the skills of writing down pat. But it’s a start. I’m leaving you today with a “thinking assignment.” Think about this. Before you sell a story or a book you have to be sold on yourself. If you’re not sold on yourself, it will show in your writing. Whether you call it motivation or self-confidence, when you’re sold on yourself it shows in your work.
I’m not making this up. Psychologists have long studied successful people to uncover some of their “secrets” that we can all apply. “Sold on themselves” jumped out. There’s more and it’s learnable—and next week we’ll jump into it. In meantime, gear up for an incredible NEW YEAR, and keep on writing.