As much as I love to have my time in the morning to myself so I can ease into my morning writing, sometimes, I just need a little extra motivation to get to the good stuff. On days where I have to rush, because, like today, I’m traveling and have a very busy schedule, rushing the process seems to help me get moving and focused.
I only have so much time each morning to write, and those days where I don’t think I’ll have enough time to get it done seem to be some of my more productive ones. Giving myself a deadline gets me moving. So why can’t this urgency just be on tap all the time? It’s that constant fight against our subconscious that seems to happen right up until the point where we have to meet the deadline. The crazy thing is, these deadlines are self-imposed, there’s no penalty for missing them outside of personal disappointment.
I’ve found that there are days where I just need a little leg up, a little extra something to get me moving forward. Today is one of those days. I’m at a trade show and have just enough time to sit down and hammer out some words – and that ticking clock has me somewhat focused. Why do I need something external to get me to do something I love doing? It may be that I’m circling in on mental illness, actually. The more I look back at my year’s writing, the more I have to wonder about my sanity. Why would anyone want to pursue something that takes so much effort with so little defined return? I can’t answer that. All I know is that today will be a better day because I made myself work towards my goal.
Focusing on Focusing
I’m training myself to act like a professional. Show up every day, but also do the work. One alone is not good enough, you must do both. But this idea of rushing also bleeds over into other things. We are often forced into situations where we have to rush rather than do the job as we would like to. I always try to “slow down” when I’m rushing so I don’t miss something important. It’s the driver’s mantra of “slow down to go fast” and it applies to a lot more than just road racing. You have the tendency to skip over things when you’re rushing rather than just do everything a little bit quicker. That can lead to problems and oversights. But by focusing 100% on the task at hand and making sure you accomplish the critical components, you actually end up with the best of both worlds, faster and better.
But writing isn’t like other things, now is it? I can’t necessarily rush the words. They flow at their own rate, and the only thing that changes is my ability to sit and get them down into Evernote. A little urgency can work magic. It can also kill it, is the problem. There’s a fine line between urgency helping me get an idea down and urgency killing the idea because the pressure is overwhelming. Today urgency seems to be helping me.
I was up for 24 hours between travel and trade show duty and taking customers out to dinner. That means my normal morning routine would have to wait while I got a few hours sleep. Literally. So now, I’m rushing against the clock to hammer something out before I have to be back at the trade show floor.
I can admit that this won’t be my best work. But there’s a nugget of great info in here. There’s a premise that I need to get off my chest and expose so I can address it and bring it to life. There’s also a piece of me that doesn’t seem to know anything until I’ve written it down. Is that my subconscious? Can it be that detached from the rest of my consciousness that it doesn’t seem to know the party has started until it reads about it? I’m not sure. I haven’t done enough reading about the subconscious or unconscious mind to know how it’s supposed to work. So it’s just a working theory at this point.
But it seems to be holding true. Urgency begets progress, but not always. It’s another one of the tricks I play with to see how it will affect the outcome, the results, the “finished” product if there were such a thing to a writer.
The challenge with proving it out is the risk. If it doesn’t work, I’ve put myself in a situation where I won’t accomplish my goal that day. Something I drastically want to avoid. I don’t want to get home Friday night and look at a week of failed attempts at writing. That seems like too 2017 to me. Or any other year in my life. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not Friday morning, either. But that risk is there, and it does seriously concern me. It’s what creates the urgency, I think. At some point, my subconscious knows that I only have so much time, and only have this exact moment to sit down and do its thing. That helps. Usually.
As much as we bitch about deadlines and having to meet them, especially artificial ones, this is why we do it. They work. The challenge with me is, it’s a completely artificial deadline because it’s only me committing myself to it. The only ramification of me not getting it completed is that I won’t move forward that one day. Just that one day. That’s not so bad, is it? This is what I do when I’m hungover and lying in bed with 3 hours of sleep. I tell myself this exact story – “You could miss just one day, no one will know, and no one cares but you.” That always does the trick. That’s the key, it doesn’t matter to anyone else, but me. No one is going to bring me anything, I’m going to have to go out and get it, one word at a time. There will be no awards, there won’t be any disappointments, there will just be me having to live with myself choosing to not be a creative person that one day.
That always does the trick.
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