Professional Development, Work It Wednesday

How choice influences results

I began to draft this post while riding in a jerky, crowded Metro car, on my way home from my 9-5 office job that involved just the right combination of surprises, uncharted territory and typical bullshit to really drain me. My pantyhose felt too tight. I scowled at the thought of having to wear pantyhose on a too-cold day in late April. Waiting at home was a package of frozen vegetables to thaw, a pound of chicken thighs to stir fry, and boxes containing my life’s possessions half-packed around me, reminding me that I have about seven more meltdowns scheduled until I’m finished moving into my new place in four days. Also on my to-do list were several emails that stood between me and the glorious completion of a side project.

A big ol’ glass of red wine and a book would be the main components of my ideal evening.

I don’t (completely) intend to complain, but to highlight my low energy and middling enthusiasm for writing a post. But, I’ve committed to post at least once a week. And today’s the day for my typical “Work It Wednesday” post (and by typical I mean I wrote two earlier posts that I categorized as such).

I’m going to consider “work” in a different context, however, by exploring the practices, habits, activity that goes into one’s overall endeavors.

I’m making an effort to get back into writing. I used to be a professional writer, meaning I was paid to crank out news articles on topics ranging from higher education policy (my fav) to bulldog competitive shows (not so much) at a daily publication. Before that, I edited written content, and since then, I had jobs that required me to write web copy and other promotional content. I do a lot of writing now, but it’s mostly nagging emails. (I absolutely take ownership for my contribution to the deluge of email that plagues our professional workplaces.)

But writing the kind of stuff that’s helpful to other young professionals is what I like to do and want to do more of.

You know how to create said stuff?

By writing.

Let me remind everyone that writing is a process. It involves prewriting, drafting, revising, proofreading, etc. It is not a one-step activity, but recursive, a back-and-forth practice in your mind and in a document.

But drafting, that’s often hardest. Committing words to a page, even for just a moment, even if you’re sure that what you’re scribbling or typing is going to be trashed at some to-be-determined point, can be scary.

Plenty of people finish all of the academic requirements of a Ph.D. but never become doctors because they can’t, for whatever reason, finish the dissertation. Plenty of people dream of penning the Great American Novel because they can’t, for whatever reason, focus enough to write even the semblance of the first chapter. Plenty of people keep their true feelings from a loved one because they can’t, for whatever reason, bring themselves to capture their thoughts in writing.

Writing is not easy, but I’m so lucky to know what bittersweet and fulfilling feelings this practice and the results–the written products–can bring to a writer.

But only if you write.

This time next week, I’ll be moved into my new place, but I’ll be in the same day job, with a similar commute, with similar after-work responsibilities that would make wonderful excuses to keep me from writing. I’ll also have the same yearning–to get back into writing.

So, like I did today, I can make a choice. I write, or I don’t write.

One choice gives me results, by bringing me closer to my somewhat nebulous goal.

The other is an excuse.

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