A wonderful mentor recently advised me to write for the job that I wanted. I liked this advice a bit more than the classic “dress for the position you want”, but wasn’t quite sure where to start. Writing anything began to feel like an intense endeavor that would map out the path my life would follow singularly, no wandering adventures. A tad dramatic, right? My previous writing had touched on a number of things: graffiti and street art, women’s history, 3D modeling, and workshops. But lately I have felt stuck and I have made all of the excuses: I’m too busy. There’s other tasks that need to be completed first. I’m tired of staring at a computer screen. I’m not a very good writer. When I finally logged into my blog, I found a hacked mess. Another excuse not to write as I focused on rebuilding.
A few days back, Lora Taub-Pervizpour (the wonderful mentor) shared a new post on writing. In it she wrote:
“But time to write, like time for knitting, has to be cultivated and sheltered. And blog posts started but not finished gather like my yarn stash. Well-intentioned projects I mean to pick up when there’s time. And there never seems to be enough time to make meaningful progress, so I rarely pick them up.”
When I read this, I had 6 drafts waiting in my blog, a notebook filled with 7-minute writing exercises, notes in the margins of a book waiting for review, a google doc filled with notes for a possible article, a Scalar instance waiting to be filled with an interactive/multi-modal version of my thesis, and a folder stuffed with work notes and personal reminders on loose sheets of paper. I also had all of my excuses for leaving everything half-finished and/or idle. I, like Lora, continue to leave everything unfinished opting to watch the Great British Bake Off instead.
My father is perhaps the most frequent visitor of my blog (hi dad!). He thinks everything that I write is brilliant. And I think his advice is occasionally brilliant. He recently reminded me that everything I want in life can work out as long as I keep taking steps forward. Big or small. It is one of my least favorite bits of advice and often elicits an eye roll. But when I look back on the opportunities, jobs, and events in my life he is, of course, right. Few of those things happened by chance and many of them happened because of small movements: informational interviews, reading many books, liking a college basketball team, and buying someone a cup of coffee. Maybe it is time to treat writing the same way. These small steps can be in the form of dedicated writing time for 7-minute writing exercises everyday or an hour at a favorite coffee (or ice cream) shop to work on long neglected blog posts. And while it may feel directionless, each post or free write or google document represents something I care about. Perhaps it will all add up to something in the future. Perhaps I will be writing for the job I want.
It wouldn’t be right to conclude without a big thank you to Lora for modeling not-yetness and to my father for reminding me to take small steps and be patient. You’re both wonderful.