Doing vs Being

by | Mar 8, 2021 | Goals, Mindset, Writing

Paulo Coelho tells the story of the fisherman and the businessman, which highlights the difference between being and doing. The fisherman is being himself, happily following his own path. The businessman is always doing, needing more and more to feel successful before he’ll allow himself to stop and enjoy his success.

Most people are more focused on doing rather than being. That’s fine for men because it’s a masculine energy. It’s okay for women to temporarily step into that energy, but get’s exhausting if embodied long term.

The being energy doesn’t mean you can sit back and do nothing. You still need to take action. The distinction is how the action makes you feel. Doing actions are where you keep pushing to make things happen and are draining. Being actions follow Divine guidance. You allow the next step to come and act accordingly, feeling inspired or purposeful.

I recently attended a 3-day workshop about building massive impact that was more doing than being. I booked it last year. After my massive shift in late December/early January, I was no longer aligned with it and felt disconnected for the first two days. There was one thing they said I resonated with; when you come from the mind or ego, writing is hard, but when you write from the heart, the words flow.

A woman ran the workshop, and all but one were female participants. I found it a very masculine, controlling environment, where they pushed us to go, go, go, and do things their way, supposedly with our own spin. They called out people who didn’t do as instructed, intending to coach them through their fear, which is admirable, as we often can’t the see things closest to us.

I struggled to be myself and had a different reason than everyone else to do this course; I wanted to learn to grow my following and sell more books rather than build a coaching business, so was on the back foot from the getgo. That doesn’t mean I didn’t have a plan or refuse to take any action, which is what they assumed.

On day two, the presenter called me out in what felt like an attempt to shame me into action. It backfired. I told her I have no desire to build a coaching business and am following a plan one step at a time to create an author business (check out Joanna Penn’s Your Author Business Plan to create yours). I acknowledged that while I can see her strategies would work effectively, I had my own timeline for implementing them. That didn’t go down well.

There will be times in your writing career where people will try to tell you what’s best for you and your book. Only you can know that. Stick to your plan and timeline if you have one. Building a writing career and author business isn’t a race. When you’re first starting out, you may not have the luxury of dedicating large chunks of time to it. Most likely writing will fit in around your existing commitments until you can support yourself financially and go full time.

Being vulnerable and saying ‘no’ or ‘not now’ honours who you are. Check out my post on the power of no if you need some help. It also gives others around you permission to be themselves, which is exactly what happened in the workshop. When I had that difficult public conversation and said no, it started a chain reaction, as it frequently does.

First, the presenter came back on day three telling people it’s okay for them to work through this in their own time. There was also no more calling people out, although I’m unsure if this was part of the plan or not. Second, some participants shared how they either stepped back and sat with the information, or created a plan about how it would fit into their existing business; which differed from the day two homework. Yes, there was homework.

I’ve spent decades following their process of ‘doing’ and it hasn’t worked. I’m testing the ‘being’ approach this year, and so far it’s working better than I imagined; I’m happier, more productive, and have more energy. I don’t have to force myself to work on my book, even when it’s a task I dislike, such as editing; you still need to edit your book before sending it to a professional editor.

Society often dictates what success looks like, and what you need to do to get it. Sadly, creative pursuits are usually missing from that list. What if you didn’t have to chase sales, or trends, or publishers? What if you could just be a writer and write, following a path of your choosing while still meeting your commitments and responsibilities? What would be possible? There’s nothing stopping you from doing that except you.

Cheers to your writing success!