These days, writing is the most effortless it has ever been for me. I can crank out a thousand words in less than half an hour without breaking a sweat.
But it didn’t always used to be this way. It didn’t always use to be so easy.
When my wife and I moved to our new house this summer (where there weren’t as many hills), I started running again. Because of the flat terrain, I found myself going for longer runs without really noticing it.
Soon, I was running nearly every day. I did this for a couple of months. I got into pretty good shape, but I did it mostly for the joy of running.
Since I was comfortable running three to four miles per day, I started increasing the distances. First, five. Then six or seven. Now, even as much as eight miles.
The weirdest part? I rarely feel sore.
I’m running the most consistently I’ve ever run in my life, and it’s causing me the least amount of pain.
What’s made the difference?
The answer is the same thing that makes it easier to write than ever before: Practice.
I didn’t set out to run every day without any discomfort. Nor did I ever anticipate being able to write with such ease. But it happened.
Why? Because I’ve started approaching writing like I do running. I get up every day, no matter what, and I do it. I try not to think about it too much or listen to my own doubts.
I just start. Some days are better than others, but the one thing that is constant is that I do it often. And it’s starting to get into my muscles. My body is beginning to remember. It’s getting used to the practice.
And slowly but surely, it’s getting easier.
I’m not a master (yet).
But I am learning the secret of mastery. You can, too, if you really want to. Whether it’s learning a foreign language or finally playing the guitar.
We all want life to be easy now. But that’s not how it works. Things that come easy only come later. But they do come. Eventually.
Someday, you’ll be able to put on your jogging shoes or sit down in front of your computer and do what you’ve been practicing all this time. It will be effortless. And it will be sweet.
The ugly truth
Of course, when that day comes, it won’t be enough. Because you can always get a little better. And there will always be some punk kid who comes along to outdo your last feat.
So what do we do then? What do we make of this? Do we chase the allure of mastery, only to be disappointed years down the line? Or do we abdicate to mediocrity, giving up before we even begin?
Neither sounds very appealing.
Instead, let’s do something else…
Chase passion, not mastery
Let’s find something we love so much that it drives us to want to be the best in the world. And when we find we’re not, may we shrug with indifference, because we love doing it, anyway.
May we find our life’s work getting more and more effortless because of our practice. And may we do it with a smile on our face.
Who knows? Maybe we’ll find that one day we truly are the best in the world. Regardless, we’ll have a blast doing it.
And you know what? I have a hunch that’s how the real masters do it, anyway. They sweat even when they don’t have to. Why? Because they can always get better.