**An apology to those of you who accidentally got this yesterday. I guess I blog a little like Mr. Magoo, too.
I was recently explaining to a friend why I have trouble getting much writing done.
I described the runway approach I use to build momentum: collecting my thoughts…exercising to clear my head…I need a full stomach, a glass of water, and my phone nearby, set to vibrate. I like my work area to be clean and organized. In fact, it’s best if the whole house is clean and organized, the bills paid, meal planning done, and groceries in the fridge, so there’s no lingering ‘to do’ list hanging over my head.
I wish I were exaggerating.
I need a writing soundtrack. Headphones are best, with familiar music rambling like an old friend inside my head. I like to drift in and out of a song without it snagging my attention.
Once I actually sit down and face the computer, I usually need to write a healthy chunk of crap before I can access the good stuff. Then, after the initial spew, I need about three or four solid hours of uninterrupted time to make any measurable progress.
As I was describing this process, it suddenly struck me how absurd it all was. Sure, who wouldn’t write best under those circumstances? The problem is that they occur simultaneously maybe once a year; the remainder of the time, I just wish I were seriously writing. I might squeeze out a blog post now and then, but when is The Book going to happen?
Here’s my revelation: I simply can’t wait for the stars to align to produce the perfect writing conditions; if I do, I won’t finish my book until long after I’m dead.
I need to write now, regardless of the circumstances (or, for that matter, the litany of mental obstacles listed previously).
And I’ll bet it’s possible.
After all, I drive best when I’m well-rested, well-fed, and alone in the car, listening to my favorite music. But, I don’t wait to go places until I meet all of the aforementioned conditions. If I need to be somewhere, I go. If I need to get my loved ones around, I do. I take small people to school and to the doctor and the dentist. I fill up with gas and get a few things for dinner. Maybe I parked in the sun so I have to hold the steering wheel with some slightly used tissues I found under the seat. Maybe the playdate gets carsick and I can’t find a plastic bag. No matter. If I need to drive, I drive. Never mind that I have to crank Today’s Hits in order for my two lovely children to refrain from bickering or throwing something at the driver. Shoot, I even have to drive when there is bickering and throwing. I have to drive when people are crying or asking questions like ‘what is god?’ I have to drive when I’m in a bad mood, when I’m sick, and when I’ve been so busy that I’ve forgotten to eat a meal or two. When I need to be somewhere, I go–no matter what is happening in and around me. It might not be graceful. I might careen a bit like Mr. Magoo, but I can get there.
IT’S THE SAME WITH WRITING OR MAKING ART OR PARENTING OR HAVING IMPORTANT CONVERSATIONS OR ANYTHING AT ALL. If we wait for the perfect set of circumstances, we will miss our opportunity completely. End of story.