Limits

Part of success is learning where there are real limits, and where we perceive limits that don’t really exist. Clearly there are real limits to what we can do; there is also self-delusion. That’s where I get stuck. “I can’t do it” is too great an excuse to give up without evidence to the contrary.

“I don’t have time,” is one of my pet delusions. A teacher’s job is never done. Even in the summer, there’s professional development, planning, reading…

Time is a real limit, but not as much as I would like to think. If I tell myself that I don’t have time to do something – write a book, for instance – what I’m more likely saying is that I’m not willing to commit the time it will take. Most likely I won’t live to be 150 — but I can do a lot in the 24 hours a day I have. All I need to do is look at a list of successful people to see that plenty of people accomplish more in less time than I have. Time is controllable.

“Bad knee,” gets me out of a number of things I don’t want to do. Physically, my knees are my weakest link.

In the fall, my right knee became so painful that walking was nearly impossible. I limped around for weeks before seeing a doctor, not because I’m stoic, but because I assumed that he would tell me what he always tells me: elevate it, ice it, take diclofenac, and be patient. I already know that I have arthritis. Why pay to hear advice I already know?

The tipping point came the weekend before Christmas. More

Breathe In

“I have ideas, but I don’t have the time to turn them into stories. Then, when I finally have time, my mind is a blank.” This was me complaining to another writer about my lack of progress. “What do you do when you’re not inspired to write?”

Her reply took me by surprise: “Inspiration is only a small part of writing. Time multiplied by Focus equals manuscript. If you’ve got a little time, you need a lot of focus. If you don’t have much focus, you’re going to need a lot of time to produce something. So which do you have more of — time or focus?”

My math brain thought about this for a long time, but this equation did little to get my book written. I knew I didn’t have many hours to write, and apparently I had little focus, either. Women are naturally better at multi-tasking, I decided. I have no talent for it.

My own experiences finally taught me the truth in her advice. My first novel took me only a few months because a) I had a lot of time to work on it; and b) it sucked when I was finished. I’ve written two more since then, have three more in various stages of incompletion, and more failed attempts than I care to count.

So, how do I manufacture inspiration? Here’s my list: More

The Slough of Despond

Back in November, I finished a novel for NaNoWriMo. (if you’re coming in late, that’s National Novel Writing Month.)

I missed National Novel Finishing Month (December). Who can work on writing in December, what with Christmas cookies to bake, cards to send out, halls to deck, etc. — what were they thinking?

This month is National Novel Editing Month. *smirk* As if I’m anywhere close to fixing commas and hunting down adverbs.

Reactions to my announcement that I’d won in November ranged from, “Cool. What do you get?” to “Why would anyone want to write a novel in a month?”

Yes, I finished. *Patting self on back*

Fortunately everyone is so tired of hearing about it that they don’t keep asking me, “Have you sent your novel out to publishers yet?”

Most of my friends aren’t writers. They don’t know about the hard truth of revision. They think you write it, and then you publish it. Sort of like a blog, but longer.

I am stuck in the Slough of Despond. I sink under the weight of my own bad writing.

Nano month was a great experience for me. It taught me how to write a first draft — just get it down on paper. Worry about revision later.

Later is now. More

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