I’ve been in a tent for much of May. Firstly in the wilds of the Cornish coast and then at a scorching festival in the Midlands. Silent, starry skies in Cornwall vs the distant sound of the dance tent and festoon lighting. It was all so bloody glorious: an entire swimming pool to ourselves, complete with water slide. Watching the sunset over Widemouth Bay while eating fish and chips. Dancing in the woodlands. Watching my sister’s brave but frankly aghast face as she treated her nieces to a ride on the Ferris Wheel.
Where did writing fit into all this? Well, the dream of contentedly sipping lattes while writing inspirational prose on a beach-side terrace didn’t quite come off. Work happened, deadlines were met, skypes were skyped. The projects I’d committed to were done and done with wholehearted attention. I carved out work time, not in a minimalist beach bar, more in an empty house while everyone was out.
It wasn’t a dreamy writing idyll but it was real. Those were some of my favourite times, getting the chance to focus on work I love.
But some work did get left behind. I didn’t always make time for my morning writing habit. I neglected social media. I got a little behind on some training I’m doing. I started to worry I was losing ground and missing opportunities. I felt guilty for taking time off and as though I wasn’t a ‘proper’ writer and entrepreneur after all.
And that’s the point of this article.
I often see offers popping up in the business world – offers for coaching, toolkits, bootcamps that are ONLY available for the next 24 hours and then they’re gone. Or opportunities to sell, promote or speak for a limited time only. And these offers have created a sense of panic in me before now, that whole fear of missing out or that I’m doing something wrong.
But having been around in the entrepreneurial world for a while now, I’ve seen that it simply isn’t true. Scarcity is a well-known copywriting technique – encouraging people to take action quickly before time runs out. And there’s nothing wrong with that, sometimes people need a prod to get shifting. And sometimes there is a hard, unshakeable deadline.
But. Opportunities come round again, when the timing’s right. Or you make your own. Or you find someone else, who you have an even better connection with. It’s far better to make decisions from a place of genuine curiosity and strength than from fear or panic.
I’ve realised there is time. Things are unfolding as they ought to. Who am I trying to beat, anyway? My only competition is myself. This is my business, my life, and I get to make up my own rules. The demons that slipped in while I was rock-pooling, or waiting for Skunk Anansie to hit the stage, the ones that told me that my work was unravelling because I wasn’t doing it all NOW…they’re just demons. They only have the power I give them.
My writing work is woven into my life now, and I love it. I can’t imagine doing anything else (well, I can – I have big plans… but they’re all riffing on similar themes and they don’t involve going back to a corporate office).
I’m so grateful I get to do this on my own terms. I want my life and work to stand for something – adventure, honesty, serving others, professionalism, community and kindness. These are all values I hold close. And they chime with the values of my clients, too.
So this month has been a reminder to honour my choices, to own them and to be proud of them. And to commit to living them – both in my writing work, and in the whole host of other responsibilities and frivolities that make up my life.
The best way, the only way, I can be professional and do my best work is simply to be me. (And I know that’s a cheesy last line. Bleugh. But hey, it’s true).