There have been so many changes in my life recently that I cannot begin to ponder the full effect of them all. What is certain, though, is my journey through the writing life has changed lanes, so to speak, from the plodding slow lane, to the occasional high speed passing lane, and for those of you who live in urban areas where there are three lanes from which to choose, to the glorious middle lane.
Why the lane analogy? Most of my writing life has been spent in the the slow lane, the enter and exit lane, leaving the writing highway for whatever necessary life occurrence demanded my attention. And just like with driving on the interstate, getting back on the road often means maneuvering to the fast lane and a burst of speed to make up for lost time, lost miles, lost everything.
What’s different now? Taking to heart what all writers know to be true: waiting for inspiration means waiting forever, the words won’t write themselves, the habit of doing something daily makes a story flower from seed to blossom.
An article on Maria Popova’s excellent Brain Pickings web site, ‘The Pace of Productivity and How to Master Your Routine’ examines daily routines and rituals.
Scott Belsky: “It’s time to stop blaming our surroundings and start taking responsibility. While no workplace is perfect, it turns out that our gravest challenges are a lot more primal and personal. Our individual practices ultimately determine what we do and how well we do it. Specifically, it’s our routine (or lack thereof), our capacity to work proactively rather than reactively, and our ability to systematically optimize our work habits over time that determine our ability to make ideas happen.”
Gretchen Rubin: “We tend to overestimate what we can do in a short period, and underestimate what we can do over a long period, provided we work slowly and consistently. Anthony Trollope, the nineteenth-century writer who managed to be a prolific novelist while also revolutionizing the British postal system, observed, “A small daily task, if it be really daily, will beat the labours of a spasmodic Hercules.” Over the long run, the unglamorous habit of frequency fosters both productivity and creativity.”
Pearl S. Buck: “I don’t wait for moods. You accomplish nothing if you do that. Your mind must know it has got to get down to work.”
Ray Bradbury: “You can’t TRY to do things, you must simply DO them.”
Taking this advice to heart, I have been a more productive writer, editor and journalist while at the some time entertaining visitors, hosting a college graduation and preparing to launch my first e-book.
It truly does come down to doing something every day, working at the task before you, and simply DOING it.
So, no more right lanes. Maybe an occasional fast lane, but for me, definitely, the middle lane.