This is reprinted from my January 2011 blog… I just loved it, and needed the reminder.
“Do, or do not… there is no try.” — Yoda
Okay. This statement has been quoted by geeks everywhere. It’s usually the glib, ass-kicking, “put up or shut up” quote that encourages pop culture freaks like myself to go out there and, excuse the expression, just do it. Except I’ve been in writer’s block at various points… and believe me, if I could’ve “just done it,” I would have.
As a result, I really took umbrage at the “there is no try” philosophy. Sometimes, I argued, all you had was “try.” Progress, not perfection. Getting something on the page is better than getting nothing on the page.
I’ve recently discovered a different interpretation to the quote.
Think about the last time a friend asked you to do something.
If you say, “Yeah, sure, sounds like fun,” you’re putting it in your calendar. Possibly in pen.
If you say, “I’ll try,” I’ve generally meant “I really doubt it, and I don’t really want to, but I don’t want to hurt you with a ‘no’ so I’ll use this.”
If I say I’m trying to do something in a week, I generally give myself wiggle room… it doesn’t mean I’m going to commit to it.
If someone calls me on my crap, and I say “I’m trying my best,” I mean it. But at the same time, it gives me a certain excuse: I’m still not owning my crap, per se. I’m justifying it.
The difference between doing and trying.
I realized that I’ve been pretty stressed about my writing career for a while, which is the first floor in the worry building, with an express elevator to insanity. There are so many variables that are out of my control. I can’t say “I’m going to write a bestseller” because there’s no way that’s something I can influence. It was, I’ve always thought, unhealthy.
But the difference is, if I say I’m going to do it, and then my books sell two copies and I get dropped by my publishers and my agents put out a hit on me, I can’t say “I’m not a bestseller” definitively — because I’m not dead yet. As long as I can still write, I’m still in the game.
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” — Thomas Edison
It’s a matter of commitment. I need to make smart goals, sure… but I also need to commit to an outcome. I need to connect with the things that keep my engine running toward what I want. I need to support others in their goals, and ask for help in mine.
I need to stop trying, and start doing.
back to top