about writing and life and God

Try something else

on December 12, 2012

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With great trepidation, I’d like to announce that I’m making progress. (I’m almost scared to, in case tomorrow I hit that wall again.) But today, I applied the seat of the jeans to the seat of the chair and my fingers to the keyboard. And I did two things that were different – and will maybe work for you if you’ve been feeling stuck or uninspired.

First, instead of launching in and thrashing away at it till I ran out of inspiration and/or energy, I followed a time schedule of chunks:

  • 90 minutes writing;
  • half an hour for a coffee break and look at the Christmas cards and other mail;
  • then another chunk of writing.

I’d planned that last session for another 90 minutes, but found I was waning after an hour so stopped there.

My morning was amazingly productive. I produced seven (wheeee! seven!) pieces for the new book, and seven that look as if they might survive the director’s cut.

Now to the second new thing. The work-in-progress is composed of three Parts. I needed 9 items for Part 1 and 7 items for Part 2. (I already have half-a-dozen too many pieces for Part 3.) So I started off , very logically,with Part 1. I got one new piece printed out and filed away, but then I found myself floundering. I still had time left on the clock… so instead of throwing in the towel, I took a look at the topic cards I’d made for Part 2 and found several I wanted to write, right now. That sent me back to the keyboard with renewed enthusiasm.

Working on new topics for Part 2 got me through the rest of my first session and I was happy to come back to it after my break.

My usual habit is to keep plodding on and when I hit a barrier, give up. But maybe that crunch, squeal of brakes and horrid drying-up of inspiration is not the end of the story. It could be a chance to take a detour to a more productive and appealing part of the work.

Making any kind of progress is encouraging. As the pages print off and pile up, it reinforces our sense of being able to do this thing. Defeat, giving up and skiving off, adds to questioning our vocation. So taking a detour and making progress somewhere else is helpful in several ways.


I felt so good about my morning’s work, I allowed myself time to go out and buy the last of the Christmas presents. All I have to do now is get them packed so they can be posted as standard parcels tomorrow and not incur huge postal charges at the last minute!




3 responses to “Try something else

  1. Have you read the piece by a doctor in the January issue of WomanAlive, about what it means to have early onset dementia, which she has herself? Totally amazing and inspiring. I agree about chopping things up into small pieces. I’ve been trying the so-called Pomodoro Technique this week, where you set a pinger of 25 mins and stop for 5 with a longer break after 90 minutes. You can read about it on the Internet by Googling the Pomodoro Technique.

    • Hi, Marion. I haven’t seen the Woman Alive article. It sounds very interesting. I’ve read about the Pomodoro technique but the 90 minute sessions – which I also read about somewhere but can’t remember where – seems to suit me best.

  2. Fran says:

    Good idea, to set mini time goals like that. It makes it all seem more manageable.

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