Back to showing you some of my journal/notes aka) my commonplace book. This came from an evening spent listening to Anne Carson lecture “on corners” at the NYPL.
If you are struggling with something, say coming up with a title for a book or a blog post or a song, don’t do the minimum amount.
Don’t come up with one title and think you’re done. You’re not. You’ve not even started.
Come up with 20 titles.
And if 20 is hard, do 30.
To come up with 30 ideas you won’t self-edit. You won’t have time to. You need to get to 30 so that the ideas flow.
And that’s the point: find the killer word or phrase that would’ve never been found if you’d stopped at 1 or 5 or 20 or 25.
Write a quick and dirty list of everything you’ve said yes to doing.
The list’ll include things you’re already doing, things you’ve said you’d do but you haven’t started yet, things you started long ago but haven’t finished yet (unclosed loops), etc.
Try to get it all down. Even if the categories are broad and overwhelming. Like category “Dad.”
He’s an entry on my list. I do need to show up for him. I’ve said yes to being a loving daughter so that means I show up more than I don’t show up.
What happens when you see your list?
Does it tell you something about why your life looks and feels the way it does?
Yeah. I know.
Now — what can you cross off, punt, say no to, get rid of, decide you’re not going to do now or ever?
It is hard, I know. But buried in all of that is the one or two things you really want to focus on, the one or two things that would really make a difference for you.
What would be possible if you created more space for that one thing to flourish?
Are you willing to find out?
“It is much easier to put a laundry list together of all the possible things you need to get done each day than it is to actually choose your one most important task” and then work on mastering it. — Organize Tomorrow Today by Dr. Jason Selk and Tom Bartow
“It was a delightful visit;—perfect in being much too short.” —Jane Austen
“My liege, and madam, to expostulate
What majesty should be, what duty is, Why day is day, night night, and time is time,
Were nothing but to waste night, day and time.
Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,
And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
I will be brief.” ― William Shakespeare, Hamlet
“The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.” —Thomas Jefferson
“I have made this [letter] longer than usual because I have not had time to make it shorter.” —Blaise Pascal, Lettres Provinciales, 1657, (translated from the French)
“It is my ambition to say in ten sentences what others say in a whole book.” ―Friedrich Nietzsche
“The secret of a good sermon is to have a good beginning and a good ending; and to have the two as close together as possible.” ―George Burns
“This is a short book because most books about writing are filled with bullshit. Fiction writers, present company included, don't understand very much about what they do —not why it works when it's good, not why it doesn't when it's bad. I figured the shorter the book, the less bullshit." —Stephen King, On Writing
“Be sincere, Be brief, Be seated.” —Franklin Delano Roosevelt
I’ve been attempting to write a post a day for about two weeks now.
I’ve missed a few days.
What have I learned from making the commitment? And — more or less — sticking to it?
I’ve fallen in love with the math of compounding, of watching tiny habits practice day after day build up a level of success and confidence.
As author James Clear points out in the opening to his book Atomic Habits:
“improving by 1 percent isn’t particularly notable— sometimes it isn’t even noticeable— but it can be far more meaningful, especially in the long run. The difference a tiny improvement can make over time is astounding. Here’s how the math works out: if you can get 1 percent better each day for one year, you’ll end up thirty-seven times better by the time you’re done. Conversely, if you get 1 percent worse each day for one year, you’ll decline nearly down to zero. What starts as a small win or a minor setback accumulates into something much more.”
I’m staying focused and concentrating on my process, not my outcome.
Staying with the process and not becoming fixated on the result is the heart of habit and, ultimately, identity change. Clear puts it this way:
“It doesn’t matter how successful or unsuccessful you are right now. What matters is whether your habits are putting you on the path toward success. You should be far more concerned with your current trajectory than with your current results.”
That’s what I am doing — staying fixated on my trajectory.
When I miss a day, I’ll get back at it the day after that. I’ll not let two days go without a writing a post.
In this way, I learn — bit by bit, day by day — to make change and trust the person I want to be: a notice-er, a thinker, a compassionate witness-er, a person who makes time for public (and private, too) writing and teaching and learning.
It’s a decision, a state of mind, a way of approaching the reality you live into moment by moment.
Are you seeing it?
Once you start looking for it, it’s everywhere.
Once you start looking for it, you start creating it… everywhere.
Are you willing to?
As the old adage says…
“An amateur practices until they get it right; a pro practices until they can’t get it wrong.”
Back to the practice room.