Erin Lausten

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Put the book down and walk away

Posted by erinlausten on May 12, 2011

I have to put something out there. And it may be the closest I ever get to saying something “controversial” but I need to say it. Sometimes you need to put down the book and walk away.

I’m not talking about the book you’re writing, or the book you are reading for relaxation. I am talking about the constant stream of books, blogs, and research that is supposed to teach you the right way to do things. Now, I have a strong academic background. I live in the scholarly world. I have knowledge, research, and literature up the wazoo. I will never tell anyone not to inhale as much “education” as they can.

But, there comes a time when it becomes a hinderence. Yes. A hindrence. Let me give you an example. When I first found out I was pregnant I inhaled the literature. I stalked the best websites, blogs, and books on everything from what I should eat, how I should sleep, what I needed to buy and how I would raise my child. By the time I had my son I had every book available, all telling me how to be a good mother. I discovered that many said exactly the same thing. And others said the exact opposite.

The conclusion? I was terrified I would kill my boy by sneezing on him. I was a wreck. It was an awful way to live and it wasn’t doing him any good either. So I closed the books. I applied what I had learned. I chose a direction, made a decision and went with it.

And guess what? He is three and a half. Happy, healthy, and amazing me everyday with his awesomeness. There were challenging times and if I had a question or didn’t know quite what to do, I would open the books, check the web, come up with an option, then move on. I am happier for it. I don’t have sleepless nights thinking I am a terrible mother or that something I do today will ruin his life. I am living with him and we are learning how to do this together. Oh and trust me, his dad is an invaluable tool. So don’t think I am doing this alone.

Why do I bring this up now? Because I am doing the exact same thing with my writing. For the last year I have inhaled the literature, websites, and blogs about the writing craft, the writing business, and anything else that is even remotely related to what I am doing. I have learned so much. I have discovered those things that everyone seem to agree on. I have found those things that everyone seem to disagree on.

And I am terrified. What if I am wrong? What if I take bad advice? Will I destroy my career before it even begins? Am I a terrible writer? Will I ever be able to do this? Should I wait, should I jump in? What on earth should I do?

Easy. I’m shutting the books. I have absorbed what I have needed to form a plan. I have done what I can to get to this point and now I am ready to impliment. And I need to stop worrying and start doing. Because we all learn alot in school. But we learn more by doing. We learn even more by screwing up. So it is time.

That doesn’t mean I won’t be coming back. When I have a question or when something isn’t working out, I know where to go to find the answers. I will need to keep tabs on what is going on in the business and stay on top of things. But, it is time to put it aside and take a leap of faith.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I do not think I know it all. I have only scratched the surface. But in order for me to up my level of learning I have to take the next step. I have to have something to compare to and need some experience to learn from. And reading everything under the sun is making it an impossible step to take.

I don’t recommend that everyone do this or at least that now is the time for someone to do this. You have to decide that for yourself. Do you feel you have what you need to make an informed decision? Are you willing to be wrong? If the answer to either of those is no, then you aren’t ready to close the books.

But keep it in the back of your mind. Sometimes it is time for you to take the leap and let go of the hands that have held you up for so long. Sometimes you have to do it yourself in order to fly.


2 Responses to “Put the book down and walk away”

  1. I’ve been a published author for 23 years now. Before my first sale, I did as you did, reading everything I could get my hands on (except back then, we didn’t have the internet to turn to). Now that I’ve been there and done that, I can said with certainty–most of it proved useless.

    Stephen King is right. In his memoir, On Writing, he says most books are writing are crap.

  2. Lindsay said

    Heh heh, I can be a great tennis player at times, but I tend to screw up as soon as I’m thinking about what I’m doing. If you’ve had the lessons, and you’ve put in the hours of repetition, sometimes you’re best when you just…do. 🙂

    I believe that’s the “unconscious competence” stage of learning. Good place to be!

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