I was making some notes, trying to organize my thinking about how I wanted to spend the summer. My first draft looked something like this:
- Finish my novel
- Work on my parkour strength/skills
- Do some running
- Go for some long walks
- Get in some bike rides
- Practice taiji in the park
It’s not a bad list, but as soon as I started playing around with it, I noticed that there’s a lack of parallelism. Specifically, the first item was a goal, while the other items were activities.
So I changed it, turning the first item into “Work on my novel.”
I think that’s better. I think having a goal to “finish” my novel has been an obstacle to actually doing so.
And it’s kind of odd that I’ve been thinking that way at all, because I’ve always enjoyed the actual writing part of writing. I’ve never been one of those “author” types of writers—the ones who don’t want to write, but only to have written. I’ve always liked all the phases of writing. I like starting something new, when I have a clean slate and haven’t made any mistakes yet. I like the phase of cranking away on something, putting the words down. I like the phase of revising, getting my raw words closer to the story I’d envisioned. They’re all good. So why have I found it so hard to work on my novel these past many months?
Perhaps I have tricked myself into replaying my perpetual struggle with the things I merely wanted to get done, as opposed to the things I actually wanted to do. It’s a problem I had all through school, and then all through my career. The things I needed to get done were always the hardest.
Since I quit working a regular job, I discovered that I am way more productive when I do the things I want to do and put off the things I just want to get done. This makes some things problematic—the taxes come to mind—but overall it’s been an effective strategy.
I have other thoughts about trying to be more productive this summer—this actually started out to be another “daily routine” post—but I’ll save those thoughts for another time.
For the rest of this morning, I’ll just see if I can quit worrying about finishing my novel, and instead spend some time working on it. And maybe squeeze in a run, along with some strength training.