Besides being cute and cuddly in an uncoventional way, Yoda, the Grand Master of the Jedi Order, has words of wisdom for everyone, even us writers. Famously, he told a struggling Luke Skywalker:
“Do. Or do not. There is no try.”
Writers trying to get published should heed these words. Print them out, write them in your bullet journal, slap them on the edge of your computer screen on a sticky note. If you can see the wisdom behind the obvious in Yoda’s short admonition, you’ll be so much closer to writing success.
Because “trying” is a nebulous non-action that exists somewhere between doing and not doing, just like Yoda said. A post by Michael Hyatt referenced famous inspirational coach Tony Robbins asking a woman to “try and pick up a chair.” Every time she picked up the chair, he told her she was wrong; she was picking up the chair, not trying to pick up the chair. In a rebuttal to Hyatt, author Marcy Kennedy says that’s all wrong: sometimes all you can do is try. Her reasoning is that some things are beyond your capabilities. One of the examples she uses is this:
I’m 5-foot-2, and I’m strong for my size. But if you placed a 1,000-pound chair in front of me and told me to lift it, I couldn’t do it. I am physically incapable of lifting something that size alone.
This is true. I couldn’t lift a 1,000 pound chair, either. But knowing this, I wouldn’t bother trying. Yoda’s point is that you’re either all in or you’re wasting your time. He’s telling you to be bold, be clear, and be confident. Don’t hide behind the smarmy comforts of “try” because it will get you nowhere, just like Marcy if she tries to pick up the 1,000 pound chair.
Are you trying to get published or are you getting published? Trying to write or writing? It doesn’t matter if you haven’t reached your goal yet, you’re in the process of getting there. Every page of your manuscript takes you one step closer. Every submission to a publishing house, agent, or writing contest is taking you nearer to that goal. You’re not trying, you’re doing.
Trying is a word that promotes weakness.
Anyone who’s ever made a request of a friend or coworker and gotten the answer, “I’ll try,” knows what I’m talking about. More often than not, those two words are a polite way of saying, “No.” Don’t say ‘no’ to your writing career! Say ‘yes’ with actions that take you closer to the prize. Don’t worry about magnitude: You’re getting there if you’re taking any steps in the right direction. Even rejections are moving you closer to your goal.
Remove the word ‘try’ from your vocabulary and see what happens. Chances are, you say it a lot more than you think you do. When you use it, that word is sending a message to your subconscious that you’re not succeeding. After all, you’re ‘trying.’ It’s like driving in down the middle line of a two-lane road. If you move to the right, you’re okay. Move to the left; still okay. Drive in the middle? The next vehicle will mow you down. And that ultimately means you’re going nowhere fast.
Every writer knows the power of language. Use the language that will move you, not keep you in limbo. Don’t derail your writing career before it’s begun. Write. Get published. Start now.