Over the holidays, I took some time off of writing---a much needed break that's already paying off in spades. But during that time, I was reminded (again and again) that there are no limits to the life lessons that also apply to writing. The weekend after Christmas I went to a backcountry cabin, accessible by ski or snowmobile only. It's an amazing little place, with solar panels for electricity and a view that I can't stop thinking about---not to mention the natural spring for water and the killer sauna.
The last time I was there, I had just moved to Colorado and only had cross country skis. Skinny and without skins (removable fabric backing that gives you traction on the uphills), I couldn't hike without struggling or maneuver through deep snow on the downhills.
I was excited for redemption---especially now that I have a proper set of back country skis---but I worried I wouldn't be able to keep up with a group of experienced and talented skiers. I almost bailed.
But I'd been talking about a cabin trip for weeks, and I knew I'd be foolish to miss out because of nerves. And of course, I haven't been able to stop thinking about how much I loved the trip and all the new things I did.
I got towed by a snowmobile, on my skis, to reach the cabin. I hiked ridge lines and skied bowls I never thought I'd visit during winter, and I learned that there is nothing like skiing fresh, backcountry powder. I felt like I was floating and surfing at the same time, some unseen force guiding me down the mountain.
The success of the weekend and my own capabilities shouldn't have surprised me.
I spent most of last winter learning to ski advanced terrain at the local ski resort. I've been strength training for six months so I can have more stamina for the sports I love. And I've observed and studied my own fear so I can tell when it's rational and when to ignore it.
It was my mind that had gotten stuck in a rut, focusing on the memory of that first cabin trip and failing to recognize my growth as a skier.
The same thing can happen in writing. You forget that you've taken classes and learned a thing or two about publication, so you really can reach out to that local magazine and pitch an idea. Or you don't make the connection between finishing a few short stories and how that experience can serve you when you start a novel.
Again and again, we self select out of doing the things we truly want to do, including writing projects. We sell ourselves short because we don't give ourselves enough credit. We don't trust the work we've done to get where we want to be. But imagine if I'd skipped out on that trip.
I think it's time to stop selling yourself short. Acknowledge what you want and try it. Will you be perfect? Probably not. Will you learn a heck of a lot? Absolutely. Will it be memorable and worthwhile? Most definitely.
What will you try this year?