Once, when I was a very small child my parents took me to an audition for a commercial but I hated any fussiness, so the moment I got in front of the judges I just cried and cried.
There went that…My own self-selected opting out as the future star of any number of cat food commercials and supporting roles in television mini series. But sometimes I wonder what if, just what if…
These days I think about my potential constantly. Am I chasing my potential or squandering it? What can I do, what can I eat, how can I think in order to reach my potential?
My potential is not even something that I can even know. I can only hold it as a beacon to move toward. I can only believe that it’s bigger than I can imagine and I’ll know it when I see it.
I just got back from a three week trip to the east coast. Christmas in New York, a weekend in a log cabin in Massachusetts. (I heart location freedom.)
For ten of those days I attended a writing residency in Vermont. I thought of my many ideas, my half-written books, my dozens of unpolished essays, and of course, my potential. Or more accurately…what stands between me and it.
I came to the conclusion that it was two things—one, not setting myself up properly to get the support I needed to reach my potential—which is a very large topic that I’ll only briefly go into here, and two, cheese.
First I’ll attempt the headier one. What does support look like? Depends on the goal and depends on you. Does it mean reading self-help books for fun like I do? (Weeeee!….Is there a book called How to Not Tell Yourself You’re the Worst Human of All Time Ever? There was a time when I would have gotten one for every room in the house.)
Does it mean getting a business coach? Or an assistant, even though it’s terrifying to think about hiring someone? Getting support has to include getting help not saying yes to everything and prioritizing instead of whining that there’s not enough time. (Busting myself here.)
And for me, sadly, reaching my potential includes a life without cheese.
RIP, my relationship to gouda, sharp cheddar, and brie. Sometimes we get along fine, but there’s just been too many times where I’m stuffed up for days after we’ve had a rendezvous.
(Sugar, watch out. You’re next.)
Maybe you’re thinking I’m just some nerdy writer with a dairy allergy, but I’m not just writing this to out myself. My relationship to cheese is a cautionary tale…and an invitation for you to pinpoint your own personal version of cheese, the thing that holds you back.
One of the things I heard at the writing residency is that getting published is simply so that others can read your work. It’s out there. It’s effective. Whether you are writing the great American novel or a blog post that can reach the people who need to hear your message, doesn’t matter. So how do you become more effective as a writer, even if it’s copywriting, especially if it’s copywriting…
Here are a few quick tips, with more detail to come in the following weeks on each topic:
#1 Write stories and weave your message into them. Especially write the ones you’re scared to write, are vulnerable, or are edgy. (See my future blogpost on strip clubs.) It’ll be more fun for you and for your readers. Promise. No one wants to hear blah blah blah all day, so give us something good.
#2 Study comedy. What makes something funny? Are you funny? Can funny be learned? My writing mentor say that being funny is like sitting on a goldmine. (See future blogpost “What’s brown and sticky?”)
#3 Get help. This is hard. At first. (But then you get addicted to it when you see how much progress you can make with the right help.) There have been times when I’ve been sicker than a FIV infected cat and can’t seem to do the logical thing and get help. The last few months I was talking care of my boyfriend who broke his clavicle and had to practically yell at him to let me do stuff so he could go ahead and heal faster. (See future blogpost on “Don’t even think of picking up that twenty-pound bag of groceries when your doctor said you should lift no more than ten or I’ll give you something to really cry about.” A working title.)
Is someone or something messing with your potential? Tell ‘em to scram. Get yourself a coffee mug that says “Don’t mess with my potential” and then sip from it all day. It’s slightly more polite than giving everyone and everything the finger.
And is there something that can help you go towards your potential? Run to that. How can you get help with what’s hard? Some inspiration? Some practical tools? Someone who’s done it before and knows what works? Yes, yes, and yes, please. Personally, I need all the help I can get. So if you see me reaching for that cave-aged Manchego, slap my hand away, will ya?