Blog

Freestyle Friday: creative people and wriggling through

Most of the writers I know are introverts. Few of them have drug problems. Some of them write really really fast because their brains lay out the story before they put fingertip to keyboard and some write really really messy because they can’t see the path through the mist.

So I’m reading a book by Mason Currey called Daily Rituals: how artists work because I’m always curious about other people’s processes. 

In this compendium of novelists, poets, painters, philosophers, and other artists, I discovered that many brilliant people don’t (or didn’t) put pen to paper many hours in the day; a lot of them used some pretty weird drugs; a surprising (to me) number had very active social lives and I want to know where they found the energy.

Maybe in those drugs.

One of my favourite quotes is from Franz Kafka, who in 1912 complained to a friend, “time is short, my strength is limited, the office is a horror, the apartment is noisy, and if a pleasant, straightforward life is not possible then one must try to wriggle through by subtle maneuvers.”

Although I acknowledge the shortness of time and, alas, my limited strength, I’m grateful for my (mostly) pleasant, straightforward life.

Wishing you the same, or at least some interesting subtle maneuvers.

Happy Friday,

Rachel

Just One Thing

I confess to being something of a time management junkie. If someone has a system, I want to know about it because I cling to belief in a magic bullet. You know, the secret journal/app/diary that will magically enable me to do everything at once without once mussing my hair. Dream on!

It’s hardly news that most adults are too busy. Authors, while arguably worthy of being committed, are more overcommitted than most. Not only do most of us have day jobs and families, we have a creative life. On top of that, we have all the duties associated with being entrepreneurs. That fills up a timetable pretty fast—hence my interest in scheduling miracles.

I haven’t found one yet. What I have found is that trying too hard can cause paralysis. The longer the list, the less gets done because of overwhelm.

I came nose-to-nose with this phenomenon a few years ago when I was changing jobs, taking classes, and meeting writing deadlines. I froze up, unable to do much more than stare like a deer in the headlights. Needless to say, the longer I dithered, the worse I fell behind.

Out of self-defense, I created my one task system. Beyond going through the basic motions of the day, I had to accomplish one thing. Read one chapter of the text. Complete one exercise. Finish editing a certain number of pages. If I had just one job to focus on, there was a goal post I could realistically reach. If I made it, I could let myself off the hook and sleep well that night.

It was a simple but lifesaving discovery. Did that one thing accomplish enough? No, because my to-do list was endless. Yet it moved me forward and, as long as I inched along, I was no longer stuck. Somehow, that small amount of momentum got me through that rough patch with all deadlines met and assignments complete.

Why? The truth is, things happen one at a time. Workaholics like me don’t want to hear that, but it’s true.

So here’s the miracle cure: Focus on one thing. Just one. And then the next. And then the one after that. Quality of energy, rather than quantity of action, frequently wins the day.

NB: there is no app for that.