Saturday, December 7, 2013
Putting It Off or Getting It Done
It’s snowing. Outside. Right now. I have to go out and shovel in a few minutes. My home faces north and when you live in the Midwest that means that when the white stuff eventually begins to melt --- usually sometime in April your side of the street still has ice on the driveway while your neighbors across the street are hosting picnics on theirs. Accordingly, one has to keep up with it. Shovel or perish, as it were.
That brings me to our exercise of the day. Writing is like shoveling snow. Sometimes, in my case, it’s like shoveling other substances as well but we’ll discuss that at another time. For now, let’s look at writing and shoveling snow, and the similarities they share:
1) You have to get your tools ready. For snow, it’s gloves, boots, coat, coffee, and shovel. For writing, it’s a keyboard, a word-processing program, and coffee. Otherwise, you’re just sitting there, or standing there, with your…well, you have to get your tools ready.
2) You begin with a white expanse and change it to a dark one. With snow removal, you proceed in an orderly line across your driveway until you hit the bottom of it (in my neighborhood, real men use shovels, not snow blowers. There’s a deed restriction to that effect). With writing, you go line by line across the paper, or the screen, until you hit the bottom of the page. That brings us to the truism that
3) The job is never really done. Just when you think you have finished shoveling it starts snowing again, at least until the aforementioned April. So too with writing; you no sooner hit the bottom of the page than a fresh, new white one pops up.
4) There’s always a reason to put it off. You may have a driveway to shovel, but it’s too cold, or it’s still snowing, or you have a blog to write that’s due tomorrow, or there’s a Law & Order: SVU marathon that’s running somewhere on cable. You may have a novel or story to write, but you’re too tired, too distracted, you have phone calls to make, or there’s a Law & Order: SVU marathon that’s running somewhere on cable. However,
5) You still have to start, or you’ll never get finished. That is true of just about everything, actually. But never fear, because
6) If you’re lucky enough to live next door to Jim Bell, you can just watch him if you want to learn how to do it better. That’s true of writing, and it’s probably true of snow shoveling as well!
So: what’s your excuse, the one that stands in the way of getting what you want most --- the one that you put in front of yourself ---that prevents you from doing what you need to do now?