September 23, 2019
Word of the Week: Surrender
When I first started freelance writing, a 750-word piece would take me anywhere from 6-12 hours to write. I belabored over every word, was obsessed with finding scientific studies to “prove” all of my points, and would re-write sentences up until the eleventh hour the piece was due. Not only was this exhausting, it was also not a great use of my energy as I only average about $150 per piece. I knew I had to get more efficient. But how?
What I didn’t know at the time is learning to become more efficient with my writing was a deeper exploration into my perfectionism and tendency to over-give. I felt a lot of pressure to say exactly the “right” thing and not miss out on an opportunity to demonstrate my knowledge as a thought leader in the space. It was as if every piece I wrote might be my one and only chance to share my message and I needed to make sure it was “perfect.”
After about a year, I started to realize that every piece was an opportunity to clarify, go deeper, expand upon, and introduce new concepts. In fact, the less material I tried to cram into a single piece, the more I had to write about in the future. I began to count on the fact that I wouldn’t be able to fit everything I wanted to say about a certain topic into one piece, which is why I needed to continue to write!
The idea that “there is not enough time” is pervasive in our society. It seeps into so many nooks and crannies of our life and before we know it, we are over-engineering things as simple as what to buy at the grocery store. This kind of scarcity mentality is the underlying force of a lot of perfectionistic tendencies. We do everything in our power to control an outcome for fear we won’t get a second chance.
While some days are more efficient than others, I can usually write a 750-word piece now in under 3 hours. It’s not because I took a class on how to write faster. Or that I no longer care about the quality of my work. The main difference is I’ve stopped stressing about saying everything exactly “right” because I know there will always be a next time. I trust that whatever comes out onto the page is exactly what is supposed to.
Learning how to loosen the grip on my writing has been liberating. There’s a lot of freedom in realizing time is not as limited as you think. You’ll be amazed at all you can accomplish when you aren’t busy white-knuckling every second of it.
Ask Yourself: In what ways does the scarcity mentality show up in your life? Do you obsess over little details or is it easy for you to surrender and let things unfold at their own pace?
Weekly Mantra: There is enough time.