Northern Mummy

General thoughts and wittering about all sorts of things

The discipline to build

on June 14, 2012

I’m half way through the 15-day Great Writers Challenge and already I have done quite a few things with my writing that I never thought I would.  I’ve shared things I wasn’t sure about.  I’ve planned in time to write every day of the week and sat down to write even when I didn’t think I had anything to say, with surprising results.  I’ve stopped saying “It’s just something I do for myself” and begun to think about how to make it enjoyable for others, including ending my 2 years procrastination over buying a book which I thought might help me but knew would require me to start doing things differently.  And yesterday I was reassured that at least part of my approach – getting the thoughts down on paper, however scrappy or disjointed they might be – is heading in the right direction.  So altogether, it’s definitely been beneficial.

Today’s word is build.  We’re learning that the difference between starting and building is that to build, we must work at something in a regular, disciplined way.  Despite managing to carve out a daily time to write, I know I still have some way to go with this before I’m serious with it (to be honest, when I’ve finished blogging my way through this series and returned to my recently-established habit of writing on Saturdays, that will be about half an hour every weekday I’ll have to work on other writing, which will help a lot.  It will also help when we finish working our way through the 4 series of How I Met Your Mother Southern Daddy got for his birthday).  However, I am definitely building in a small way already, by keeping on working at my different pieces.

Today’s challenge stumped me, though.  Jeff didn’t want us to start something else we might never finish, he said, so instead we were going to “finish something.  Anything, really.  Just pick a project – an essay, a blog post, maybe even a book – and finish it.  Not tomorrow.  Today.”

Now, I could take the easy way out and say I’m finishing this blog post in a minute, but where would be the challenge in that?  I think there’s only ever been one post that I didn’t finish the day I started it.  For me, he obviously meant something else, but I wasn’t sure what.  How could I possibly finish something that I’ve already started, today, when most of them have been ongoing for years and need a lot more input.  Then I read the next paragraph, and this is going to have a profound effect on my approach to writing from now on:

“It should never take longer than 30 minutes to finish anything. If it does, you’re not breaking the project up into enough chunks.”

The ability to finish, I think, is fundamental to the way we look at anything we do.  If we believe we can finish something we are far more likely to start it in the first place (another house-work analogy springs to mind, but it’s fairly obvious and I think we’ve had enough of those recently!), because we’ll be more confident about our prospects of success.  So when I get bogged down with the holey bits in my novel, I need to stop thinking “I just can’t do this – there are so many gaps and everything I think of is boring.”  Instead I need to choose one hole and fill it in.  That will be the project, so once it’s done I’ll have finished.  It will probably be a “start ugly” way of filling the hole, but then another project, another time, would be to work on the words and the structure and make it less boring.  Regular completion of short projects is vital if we’re to stop ourselves becoming overwhelmed.

I’m finishing this here, because I’m off to do some more finishing on something else I’ve written.  And if I keep finishing something every day, I’ll know things are getting built.


One response to “The discipline to build

  1. Alice says:

    It’s an exciting way to see that things are more manageable and to actually eventually finish a whole project isn’t it? I too often feel bogged down by the whole – I’m hoping breaking things up will help that feeling a bit!

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