In this latest Patreon essay, I write about how bad we are, as humans, at predicting what will actually make us happy. I won’t go into the science of it here, but this is the main takeaway: We guess wildly at what will make us happy, and then we get it wrong, over and over again. It’s human nature, and it’s part of the way we work.
It might sound familiar to you.
We dream of the totally free Saturday afternoon when the spouse has the kids, and you have the cafe. You know exactly how it will go. You’ll get there, grab your favorite chair by the outlet, and you’ll proceed to write the brilliant prose you know you’re capable of. It will be everything you’ve been waiting for.
Fact is, it doesn’t go like that, does it? Even when the seat is open, and your computer is plugged in, and your latte is perfect, something isn’t quite right. It’s your brain. It won’t settle. It won’t do what you need it to do which is to get some goddamn words on the page that don’t suck all the suckitude of suckery sucktown.
We predict what will make us happy (or sad) and we are wrong, over and over again.
It helps me to know this.
Nothing is going to go the exact way I imagine it, either for the good or the bad, and that kind of lets me off the worry hook.
Brain science shows us that the thing you fear the most won’t be as bad as you think it will be. It also shows us that the fantasy–the lottery win, the subsequent small-island purchase–also won’t be as good as we think it will.
That means all you have is now. This imperfect, perfect moment you’re sitting in right now.
Now is all.
Don’t wait for after retirement. Or next weekend. Or when the kids are in grade school. Whatever you’re waiting for, it’s not enough.
If you’re waiting for a future time, when you’ll be a better writer with more discipline and courage and creativity?
The only way you’re going to be one is to write messily, sloppily, and badly NOW.
Go write something. Anything. A blog post. A letter to your aunt who would die of shock if she got something in the mail from you. A love letter. A letter to the editor. A Facebook post that says something instead just a status update. The first chapter of your book (it will be terrible! It’s supposed to be, I promise!).
You have right now. And it’s better than okay–it’s all you need.
PS – Curious about the longform essay on this which includes things like the way I use my ADHD for my writing benefit? You can read it (or listen to the MP3) here for as little as a buck.
Encouragement, once a week. Free.
Do this for yourself, for the writer you want to be.