Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

No Matter How Difficult the Task, Trust the Process

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Paul Jun. Paul connects the dots on his blog, Motivated Mastery. He also created a compelling manifesto. Follow him on twitter @pauljun_.

I’m in a 105-degree room, twisting my spine and muscles in ways that I could have never imagined. Sweat is leaking off my body. It’s hard to breathe. But at the same time, I know it’s the most important thing I have to do. There is power in breathing.

“Trust the process,” says my yoga instructor, pacing around the room. “This too shall pass.”

I ponder that thought as I’m trying to stay mindful of my breath and posture with salty sweat droplets attacking my eyes. Trust the process? Why? How?

I’m so uncomfortable, my shorts are soaked, and I almost regret coming.

The thing about hot yoga — or any rigorous exercise — is that there isn’t a comfort zone. That’s kind of interesting if you think about it; it says a lot about us as humans and how we reach mastery.

As we pass a threshold, a new one awaits

As we shed a piece of our old selves, we embrace a more powerful mind and body. It may not be obvious until later when we self-reflect or when others notice it. But change does occur.

Three months ago, I couldn’t touch my toes. Now, I’m practicing headstands. What made the difference? I committed to the work and trusted the process.

The process never changed: show up five times a week, practice hard, receive feedback, press in to the discomfort. This continual discipline of showing up and giving it all I had changed me, helped me exceed my own expectations.

And in thinking about this, I realized writing is a lot like hot yoga.

Trust your process

Do you doubt yourself? I do. Every morning, while I exercise, during my writing time, and before bed. “Will I ever make it?” is a thought that haunts me. Plagues me. I can’t escape it. But it’s also what compels me to show up every day.

Writing is one of the most difficult creative endeavors.

It’s normal for writers to seek shortcuts and hacks, to find some new tip or trick, something to get our work accepted by others. But how difficult it is to write for months —  or even years — and get little to no response. How unrewarding.

But maybe that’s not why we do it all.

I’ve been writing longer than I’ve been doing yoga — four years, to be precise. But all four years weren’t the same:

My first year was child’s play. The second was more serious. The third year, there was an epiphany when I started landing big guest posts and self-publishing books. That’s the year I called myself a writer with confidence. Now, embracing my fourth year, I’ve changed my strategy.

But the process has never changed. I keep showing up, writing, reading, shipping, failing, and breathing. You must always keep breathing.

The pattern is too familiar

Do you compare yourself to other writers? I do. Do you look at them and say,

Wow, they have such a large audience, they’re self-employed, they do this and that — ugh, I wish I had their success.

Well, guess what? You do have their success. It’s yours for the taking. But here’s the catch: You have to trust the process. It’s about building momentum, making sure the flame of inspiration doesn’t quit.

When does fire stop burning? When there is nothing left to burn.

When you stop showing up and allow fear to sabotage your work, the outcome is ashes. You’re done.

We fail to start a new draft or finish the old one, because we’re uncertain of the process, insecure of our own ability. We doubt ourselves and forget that our heroes were rejected, too.

But those we remember were the ones who stuck with it:

  • Seth Godin‘s been writing on his blog, unfailingly, for over 10 years — spreading the same message since 2002.
  • Stephen King continues to ship book after book, but don’t forget it took 10+ years to sell his first novel, Carrie.
  • Hunter S. Thompson was fired from Time for insubordination, was beaten by the Hell’s Angels, flew down to Puerto Rico for a sporting magazine, El Sportivo, only to realize that the place went down upon his arrival; he used this failure and wrote The Rum Diary, which in turn, became a film played by Johnny Depp.
  • It took Chris Brogan 10 years to get his first 100 subscribers.

Have you been writing for 10 years? If not, you still have a ways to go.

No matter what, do this…

Keep writing and refining your craft. Have faith in the process and stop comparing yourself to others.

When you’re doing that, you’re doing all you can do. Slowly but surely building momentum. Honing your skill and earning an audience’s attention.

As you go through this process, you’ll learn new things about your skill. Maybe you’ll change a small tactic or completely redesign your website, as I did. You may even find a new approach to how you edit your work or practice. And all of that is okay.

What matters most is that the process — whatever it is — remains relentless. Showing up, doing the work, shipping, learning, and of course, always breathing.

If you do that, you will continue to feed your fire.

How do you trust your process? What keeps you going? Share in the comments.

About Paul Jun

Paul connects the dots on his blog, Motivated Mastery. He also created a compelling manifesto. Follow him on twitter @pauljun_.

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