I Can’t Do This!

Elaine Baldwin | @elainehbaldwin

I Can’t Do This!

The other day I was sitting at our community pool preparing to do some laps. I was delayed by the unfolding scene at the edge of the pool. A boy about 12 wanted to learn to dive. His three companions were doing their best, I assume, to help him learn this skill.

In a few minutes, the discouraged lad moaned, “I can’t do this!”

The girl of the group immediately encouraged, “Yes you can. Just do this…” and proceeded to provide her friend with more advice.

He tried again. Not much better.

He lamented again, “I can’t do this.”

Again, his friends offered encouragement and advice. This went on for about ten minutes.

Eventually the boy gave up and so did the group. They all moved to wrestling in the water; doesn’t require as much concentration.

I was about to get in the water when the twelve year old came once again to the deep end, placed himself into a low body diving position and tried again. He did it…sort of.

The others genuinely gave him praise, gave him even more advice and challenged him to try again. Even though he was smiling, he declined and went back to wrestling. I think he was tired of all their advice and would wait for a moment to try again on his own.

This scene may not seem to have anything to do with writing or accomplishing anything in life, but after the morning I had it was a lesson in living color. Let me explain.

Just when I thought I was making some head way in figuring out the book world, I was knocked back just a little with a small caution given in grace. The problem wasn’t in the caution itself or the presentation, it was the little child’s voice inside me that said, “See, you can’t do this.”

And this voice was persistent which was annoying and disproportionate considering the minimal circumstances.  Instead of just brushing off the little voice, I decided to seek what was gnawing at me. And I found it.

I’ve spent the last two years learning all I can about writing (fiction and non-fiction) and publishing (traditional, indie and self-pub). I’ve listened to lots and lots of advice. Most of it has been very good and wonderful. Some of it is a little confusing and conflicting. And just a little wasn’t very helpful. Often it has been overwhelming and nagging feelings of “I can’t do this” keep me from taking necessary next steps, just like the boy at the pool.

It isn’t that I can’t do it. I have the skill, I have the final product (books), I have good advice and plenty of encouragement. My problem is I need to move from the advice, however good, and take concrete action.

In other words, I need to be like the boy at the pool. On my own, I need to take all my research, all the advice and move to the edge of pool, get into position, push all my failures and setbacks aside and just dive in.

Want to dive in with me?

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