I get daily emails of encouragement from major league baseball manager Clint Hurdle, many of the posts coming from other writers and motivators. The post the other day was written by Steve Gilbert.
He tells of a period in Rowling’s life when she hit rock bottom; her mother died, she was getting divorced, didn’t like her job, and thought about suicide. She had an idea for a series of books while sitting on a train, but did not act on it.
Rowling then changed her life. She writes, “Failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy to finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one area where I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realized, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter, and a big idea. And so rock bottom became a solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was published in 1977 with a run of 500 copies, 300 of which went to libraries. Sales now are over 12 million.
I am not recommending would-be-writers blow up their life and do a reboot. Reboots may carry a virus or two, but her opening line is what grabbed me. Strip away what is not essential in your life. It is another way of saying get your life in order, pursue what you need to do, stripping away what is preventing you from your goal.
We all waste time (from time to time) and that is okay for it can be relaxing, freeing anxiety and stress. But it can also become a habit that, like any addiction, can be consuming.
Consume yourself with your passion, not your distractions.