by Reba J Hoffman, Ph.D
I once rode my bicycle in an event that went right past the space shuttle on launch pad 39B at Cape Canaveral. It also passed one of the largest known eagle’s nests, weighing in at more than a thousand pounds. I won’t even mention the alligators that sunned in the ditches at the sides of the roads. Or the ospreys, blue herons or egrets.
When the ride ended, I asked a friend how he liked seeing the space shuttle. His response knocked me off kilter. He said, “what space shuttle?” Turns out, he’d been so focused on his destination, he hadn’t noticed a single thing except the spandex shorts of the rider in front of him… for a hundred miles!
I know writers who are the same way. They are so focused on getting published, they not only don’t enjoy the trip, they don’t even notice it. They fix their eyes on the literary spandex that’s in front of them and don’t even think to look around.
Please trust me on this. If you spend your life looking for the finish line, when you finally reach it, you’ll be left empty and wondering if that’s all there is. Getting across the finish line—in your case, publication—while good, it’s not that rewarding all by itself.
The memories of the journey, along with its quirks and turns will be what you tell others, not “my book hit Barnes and Noble on January 15th.” You’ll laugh about how you stayed up until 4am because the voices in your head were telling you to murder someone.
I’ve run in dozens of races and ridden back to back century rides on my bicycle. At mile 200, the finish line might the highlight of the tiring day, but as I sit around over dinner recounting the race, not once do I mention the destination. It’s all about the journey, not the destination.
Regardless of where you are along the writing road, you’re on a journey. STOP! Yes, now. Look around you. Take it in. What’s happening? Have the family pets given up on you and assumed the snooze position? Do you look like that messy book worm you swore you’d never become? Does your hair look like Einstein on a bad hair day?
Yeah, it’s about the journey. Please don’t rob yourself of the best parts of the writer’s road by giving yourself tunnel vision. Look around you. Take it in. Enjoy it. Not only will you have a lot more fun, but you’ll write better, too!
Have you been focused on the wrong thing? What did you notice with you looked around? Share it here.
Reba J. Hoffman is the founder and president of Magellan Life Coaching (www.magellanlifecoaching.com). She holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Counseling and is a natural encourager. She serves as Member Care Coach for My Book Therapy and is the author of Dare to Dream, A Writer’s Journal. You can connect with Reba through her motivational blog, Finding True North, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow her on Twitter at @RebaJHoffman.