Today’s One Thing

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I read quite a few blogs and articles on productivity and time management and have found them extremely helpful. Besides offering good information, they’re a handy avoidance technique. Reading feels productive. I’m educating myself. I can list the benefits all day long.

Getting drawn in provides a guilt-free excuse to avoid what I should be doing. What I need to be doing. What I actually want to do.

But am somehow, not doing.

I can futz around half the day doing everything BUT what I need to get done, and then, when the deadline looms, dive past the distractions and excuses and get some serious work accomplished.

I’d like to skip the procrastination stage. But how?

One of the things I’ve learned is to take a minute and listen. WHY don’t I want to do this thing I say I want to do?

Whether it’s a life situation or a story problem, it’s usually because some part of me knows:

a) I’m going in the wrong direction,

b) There’s a problem with a relationship, or

c) I don’t know enough about where I’m trying to go.

Once I figure out which one applies here, I can make the necessary changes. That frees me to take the next step.

During elementary school, I went to Pioneer Girls, which was like Girl Scouts for church kids. We started every meeting by quoting Psalm 119:105. “Your Word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.”

There’s lots of helpful imagery here. If you’ve ever used a lantern or a flashlight, you know it only lights up a smidge of the path ahead. The light never reaches miles and miles in front of you. You have to trust it and take a step. Then another, so you can see the next step.

So it is in creative endeavors and in reaching our dreams. If we could see all that lies ahead, both good and bad, we might never move from our safely rooted spot in the present.

We have to step out, into the circle of light.

Turn the lantern on. Take a look at the problem. And then take the next step.

Do it today. And again tomorrow. And the next day.

We won’t get there all at once. But if we make steady progress in the right direction, we’ll eventually reach our destination.

What next step do you need to take today?

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    The Conversation

  1. Lisa Rayns says:

    Good job narrowing down to your a,b,&c. Knowing there is a problem and being able to pinpoint it is half the battle.

    • Connie Mann says:

      Hi Lisa–definitely. And sometimes, even before that, is the willingness to sit still long enough to figure out which one it is. 🙂

      Hope you’re having a productive day!

  2. Maddy says:

    Like most people my real life is cluttered and busy. Just finding the time to write at all is nigh on impossible, then the blessed ‘free moment’ would arrive and my fingers would be ready to type but my head would be full of unfinished or incomplete ‘to dos.’ So, to unlock my brain I would ‘edit’ / go over what I had written previously and that helped me slip out of inertia.

    The other thing I’ve been working on this year is what I call diving in the deep end, where I try and flick a switch in my mind which commands me to ‘write now,’ during this available 20 minutes. Now I’m going to finish off making those sandwiches.

    • Connie Mann says:

      Maddy, great plan! I do that often. Decide just to write for x amount of time. Sometimes, that’s what it takes to overcome inertia!

      Hope there’s room for some writing time after the sanwiches!

  3. Ruth says:

    Thanks for the Psalm. It’s a wonderful reminder of what’s really important.

  4. Alana Lorens says:

    Taking one step at a time with my book in progress–don’t think about the 20,000 words still left to do!! Just deal with this scene. And then the next one. And then the next one. The 20,000 will come together soon enough. Nice post and a good reminder. 🙂

  5. Wonderful, inspirational words, and they definitely resonated with me. I love the lamp analogy. Perfect.

    You also hit the nail on the head regarding getting stuck. I find when I can’t move on from a scene or a chapter, I need to take a day off, do things completely different from writing, and let my subconscious work through the issues preventing me from moving forward. The problem is usually exactly as you said – I’m going in the wrong direction or I don’t know enough about where I’m going to proceed.

    Forcing myself to deal with it is tough work, but entirely necessary!

    thanks for another thought-provoking blog.
    I love Psalms 119

    • Connie Mann says:

      You’re so very welcome, Lynne. I’m so glad the blog was encouraging. Psalm 119 and the lamp analogy offer me wisdom I turn to again and again.

      I keep waiting for a pill or magic want that will make this whole process easier, but haven’t found one yet! Thanks for encouraging me!

  6. Thanks for posting this. I needed to read it. This week I’ve been doing everything but writing because I knew I had a problem with my current WIP but instead of trying to figure it out, I did anything but that. Thanks for prodding me back to my manuscript.