by Cynthia Ruchti
“No more shoulds.”
I could feel my eyes widen and my eyebrows creep higher at her no-nonsense statement. She meant all three words. She’d determined to eliminate the word “should” from her vocabulary.
No more “I should,” “We should,” “They should,” “You should.”
“I’m either going to do it or I’m not,” she vowed. “I either will or I won’t. No more ought to.”
The next few months of our friendship were an obstacle course around those words. They popped up in more conversations than I dreamed they would.
“Do it or don’t,” she’d chide. “Pick one.”
“I should exercise more.”
“Will you or won’t you?” She waited for my response. Toying with a good intention no longer registered with her. As inflexible as it made her seem, her point was well-taken and has stayed with me for two decades.
How would that conversation look in a circle of writers?
“I should put together a decent one-sheet before the conference.” Will you or won’t you?
“I should finish those last few chapters before I meet with an editor.” You either will or you won’t. Feeling as if you should is pointless unless it’s followed by action.
“My critique group made some good suggestions. I should implement them before anyone else sees this work in progress.” Yes or no? No more shoulds.
“I should research the writers’ guidelines for that publishing house.”
“An editor asked for a proposal from me when he met with me at the conference. I should do that one of these days.”
It’s been estimated that as much as 80 percent of requests for follow up lack follow through.
Wind up. Pitch. Follow through. It’s a pattern that works in baseball, bowling, football, tennis, and writing.
We wind up-write our hearts out (or in, as the case may be).
How far will a should advance us in the writing journey? Not at all. It was a rhetorical question.
Will every follow through result in a strike? No. But the lack of follow through will guarantee it won’t be.
Wherever you are in your writing journey, how would it change things for you if you deleted the word should and replaced it with will?
Or with, “by God’s grace, I will…”?
Following through automatically advances you to the top twenty percent of your class. Eighty percent didn’t turn in their assignments.
My “no more shoulds” friend moved away many years ago. I wonder if she’s staying true to her commitment. I should…I will give her a call and find out.
Question for you: Is the courage it takes to follow through harder on you than the regret of missing an opportunity?
Cynthia Ruchti is working hard to follow through on the opportunities that come her way. Her recent releases-When the Morning Glory Blooms (novel) and Ragged Hope: Surviving the Fallout of Other People’s Choices (nonfiction), both from Abingdon Press-keep her busy following through with interviews, blogs, and readers. You can follow through with questions or comments for her here or at www.cynthiaruchti.com or www.facebook.com/CynthiaRuchtiReaderPage.