Like a Lumberjack

It’s a rainy, cold, blustery spring evening–perfect for curling up with a mug of tea and reading a good book, watching a movie…or writing!

I read a great article earlier this year in the January/February issue of the SCBWI Bulletin.  Author Miranda Paul talks about the West African concept “Ndanka, Ndanka,” which means “slowly, slowly.”  It’s a common response from someone in the Gambia when asked about how a certain project is going.

I think it applies to most projects we undertake.  Anything worth doing always ends up being more than we bargained for.  But it has to be, doesn’t it?  Otherwise, we would probably never get started.

But I think the best advice is to surrender to the task.  Enjoy the deliciousness of working slowly.  Savor it.  Surrender into it.  Swim with it.  Even if it means some days you feel like a lumberjack–slowly, slowly chipping away at your work.

Eventually you’ll finish–never doubt that.  But it’s the murky middle, as we say in writing and perhaps in life, where all the magic happens.  You don’t want to miss that!  But you will…if you don’t get started–or worse–if you finish too soon.

Thought for the week: Pearl

A pearl needs some time and a lot of sand to rub up against to become its shiny self.

“Get to Work” Playlist

I don’t know about all of you, but for me, sometimes getting to work can be quite a challenge, especially since I work from home.  There are so many distractions!

So I’ve developed a system, or rather a series of mind tricks, that I can use to get myself to work OR back to work if I’m taking a break.

  • The most recent is the “Get to Work” playlist.  It takes a little time to make the playlist, but once it’s done, the results are so rewarding!  The bonus: you get your creative muscle working by picking out songs.  One song I chose was recommended to me by a good friend.  It’s called “Over and Over” by Madonna, in the early years.  The tune is very 80s, but the words are what count.  She reminds us that we must get up again, over and over.  Think of that Weeble Wobble toy that can’t stay down!
  • Make tea or coffee.  The simple act of getting up can really get you going.  Before you know it, you’ll have forgotten all about the tea until it’s cold 😉
  • Have a mantra or two that you repeat to yourself to get moving.  Add a little action, like a punch or a high kick, and it will really solidify your start.
  • If you’re really down, go to your list of affirmations–the reminders of all the things you’ve accomplished and all the positive messages you’ve received over time.  Everyone needs a little encouragement, time and again, to quiet the negative voices in the background.
  • Practice gratefulness.  Nothing like reminding yourself of what you have to help you forget what you might be lacking.  It helps cure boredom, too, which is really just a form of fear.
  • If you have a work space, get up and get it ready for work.  The simple act of cleaning off your desk can make you feel ready to tackle new projects.  Just don’t let it turn into an all-day cleaning marathon 😉
  • Take 15 minute breaks at the end of each hour with a reward (nothing too distracting).  It might sound counterintuitive, but it actually helps refresh the mind so you can go longer and stronger.  It’s good to give the eyes a break from the computer screen, too.  Practice blinking to keep those eyes from going dry from too much staring.  Some healthy rewards include doing a few yoga stretches or taking a quick walk, having a little protein snack, or drinking more water or tea.

So go make that playlist.  I guarantee that even after one song, you’ll be ready to get to work.  And FYI, if you’re in the middle of a project and you feel stuck and want to bolt–Don’t.  Turn on one of your songs, instead.  It often does the trick to keep your body in the chair long enough so you can work through the problem creatively rather than run away from it.

Now get to work! 😉