Breaking Barriers

The irony is not lost on me…that I did a writing course last year and my last blog post was just over 6 months ago…

But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been writing, I just haven’t been writing publicly. I have started carrying a little notebook with me everywhere I go (I just cannot get inspired to type out notes on my smartphone).  It’s supposed to be my little book of inspiration, whenever I read something that sparks a thought, or overhear a conversation in a café, or restaurant (I have become a shameless eavesdropper!), out comes the little book.

I’m hoping that this might eventually inspire me to actually talk to strangers, but I haven’t mustered up the nerve yet.  However, it would be great to just strike up a conversation with a random stranger and get an entirely new perspective on something, or learn something you never knew, or simply just enjoy a great story about someone else’s incredible life.

The hard part, undoubtedly, is then translating this onto paper (or computer screen).  I ran into the woman who taught the writing class recently, and she asked me if I had pitched anything.  I was embarrassed to admit, no. However, unlike most other people in my class, my fear is not of having my pitch rejected…rather, having it accepted and then having to stump up with the goods! What if I write a piece of absolute rubbish? What if they give me a ridiculous deadline? What if I cant find a suitable expert to interview? What if I ask the wrong questions? What if? What if…?

These thoughts were still whizzing through my head this morning as I was driving home from the gym, when on the radio they announced that it was Alan Alda’s birthday.  They then played snippets of an interview he did Andrew Denton in 2009. Alan was discussing his relationship with his mother, and how despite her schizophrenia and the paranoia and fear that went along with that, she still managed to instill in him a deep sense of self-confidence. “I still”, he said “at this age, start to do things that I can barely do, but I believe that somehow I will be able to pull it together and manage to do it, fairly well.”    This, he says, keeps him “fresh”.

I work in the field of Innovation, and I talk to a lot of people who work in start-ups, and they often say similar things. They have an adventurous spirit, they enjoy the thrill.

I used to think I wasn’t like that, but now I think: we all are. Of course, no one likes the feeling of anxiety before giving a big presentation at work, or before they run a race that they have trained weeks- maybe months -on end for. The reality is that the little bit of fear motivates us to work harder, and if we fail, there is still satisfaction in knowing we attempted it and perhaps a feeling of accomplishment anyway for the fact that we survived.  If we succeed, well…that is a real buzz and suddenly we are hooked on wanting to do it all again.

I know that when I eventually deliver my first successful pitch and publish my first article, I will be hooked.  I just need to force myself to push through that first barrier.


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