Before I moved to the mountains, I swore I would never be one of those people. The kind that had several bikes and a few skis, and oh, let's throw some climbing gear into the mix, too. I showed up in Crested Butte on October 1st, my tiny little hatchback filled to the brim with things like books, my laptop, and hiking boots.
Snow fell on October 27th, and I quickly figured out that I'd need more than hiking boots. Now, I have Nordic skis, alpine skis for the ski resort, and backcountry skis. I have a townie bike, a road bike, a mountain bike, a climbing harness, climbing shoes, a climbing rope and a climbing pack. (Thankfully, the latter doubles as a ski pack.)
It's ridiculous, I know. If I ever move out of this mountain town, there's no way I can do it in a single carload. (A normality for many people, but this fact occasionally gives me heart burn.)
Yet all this gear enables a lifestyle I dreamed about for years. I road bike during spring when the single track is snow-covered and muddy. I mountain bike all summer long and into the fall, and when it's time to ski, I hit the Nordic trails, the slopes at the ski resort, or head to a backcountry hut. I climb year round. Instead of watching other people head into the mountains, I go with them and call these mountains my home.
I had to learn to invest in my dreams.
My first big gear purchase came in Minneapolis, when I shopped for a road bike. I worried incessantly about buying too much bike. It wasn't a money thing, it was an identity thing. I was just a commuter. Why did I need a fancy bike?
Luckily, my partner in crime helped me adjust my thinking. I didn't need a fancy bike, I needed one that would grow with me. He was right, because I didn't stay a commuter. I took long weekend rides, then an overnight trip, and over time came to think of myself as a biker.
I didn't have a partner in crime when I bought my first downhill skis. I bought the cheapest pair I could find. They were fine on the bunny hill, but once I graduated from blue runs to black diamonds, those darn skis were so heavy they literally held me down. They made it hard to be nimble around moguls and through the trees.
I bought those skis because I had the identity of a dabbler. I was just seeing what I thought about skiing. But I'd just moved to a ski town! Who was I kidding?? Sometimes we need to think about who we're becoming, not who we are, when we make an investment. The same is true for writing.
How to give yourself permission to invest in your writing.
As writers, we learn by sharing our work with others and gaining insights from writers who've gone before us. Sometimes, we get that by trading work with a friend or taking a free workshop. I know I have... and still do.
But sometimes, I find that I have to up the ante.
A friend might not be as honest as a coach or have the knowledge to help as much as they'd like. A free workshop isn't going to have as much content as a paid workshop, especially online. I can't learn from a one-day workshop what I can learn in six weeks.
Sometimes we get stuck. We keep choosing our resources from the perspective of the dabbler. We keep picking the clunker skis.
And understandably so. It's scary to justify a bigger investment of energy, time, or even money because it means we're taking our writing seriously. We're putting ourselves out there and risking failure... but also success.
Try this: Imagine the writer you want to be. The one who has an article in a glossy magazine or writes a novel or gets paid for her work. Imagine what it feels like to be that writer, looking at your own byline, the result of all you've done. Let yourself really feel it. Embody that future writer.
Notice if it brings positive feelings to your physical body. Are you smiling? Is your chest light? From that place, ask yourself what it took to get there. What steps can you give yourself permission to take, so you can reach a similar future?
It's a balancing act, I know. I buy gear, for example, but I have very few shoes and not many clothes and I will drive my car into the ground before I ever consider buying a new one. But the more seriously I take my outdoor pursuits, the more they sustain my health and my joy.
So let's not break the bank or give away energy where we don't need to. But let's also remember that the more seriously we take our writing, the more seriously the world will respond. And, we'll have way more fun that I did on those clunker skis.