How good are you at being inviolable?
I received this small bit in an email from another writing friend this morning:
“Virtually the only way to free ourselves up for effective, dedicated writing is to block out the time and make it inviolable. The most productive (and prolific) writers churn out several thousand words in three hours each day.”
I’ve read Stephen King’s Memoir on Writing. In there he revealed that he writes for 3 hours every morning—and then he’s done for the day. Just in case you were wondering.
Somewhere in my stack of clippings I read a piece of advice that speaks to our taking a check-in with ourselves by 2:30 every afternoon.
The writer suggested that we do this to determine if we are using our work day hours to our best advantage.
We are to ask ourselves: Am I accomplishing what I wanted to today? And if our answer is ‘no,’—well then—we still have enough time left in the work day to change our course and make something happen. Something that we will be happy with as we close our eyes at bedtime at the end of that day.
Ann Patchett was in Cedar Rapids a couple nights ago and gave a most rousing and entertaining talk on the writing process and being recognized as a writer (even by fathers who still don’t realize writing IS a REAL job).
In pre-talk publicity in an article in the local newspaper she was quoted thus:
“I know a lot of what my next novel is about, but I hate starting. I’m at the point when I’m ready to start and I wake up every morning and think of something else I can do, like cleaning out my sock drawer. I get down to doing every last thing that could be done and then finally when there’s nothing else to do, I start writing.”
I would like to say a special thanks to Ms Patchett for admitting to being human—and reminding me that I am, too. Having said that—the lady has finished and published, oh, say—at least 6 books by now. She obviously gets those ol’ sock drawers done and then slides into the chair to work.
Further suggestions for the daily work-pulse check come from an article written by Jocelyn Glei, “How to Set Smart Daily Goals.”
She suggests we ask ourselves three questions:
Am I intentional?
We should be aligning our actions with what matters to us. Do everything with a purpose. If our action isn’t serving a purpose, we ought to stop wasting our energy.
What am I doing?
Am I spending too much time on unimportant tasks? Do I want to keep frittering away my time like this?
Have I scheduled uninterrupted time today? (I believe this goes back to that inviolable word.)
Will I set time aside to “be still?” I agree with her that it’s more important than the general public wants to accept. Quiet time is the foundation for bringing order into our lives. Taking time to reflect, journal, meditate, strategize, imagine, and so forth will help us work more effectively.
I’ve been trying to find a new work approach lately. I’ve gone a bit helter-skelter this whole past year and it’s been niggling at me waaaay too much which only causes anxiety, so I’ve been trying to develop a solution.
Two questions I pose to myself these mornings are:
- What do I want to accomplish today?
- How realistic are they for this day?
Admittedly, I have not conquered my time use issues, but I feel I am at least asking myself the right questions.
We had a guest speaker in church this past Sunday. His topic was “Focus.” He quoted an equation taken from the 1997 book: The Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to The Mental Side of Peak Performance, by W. Timothy Gallwey.
The equation looks like this: P = p – i
Translation: Performance = potential – interference.