I have learned a valuable lesson.
Here it is:
It takes me three weeks to learn valuable lessons.
I read a bad book on writing. A person probably shouldn’t pay too much attention to a badly written book on writing. There was one redeeming sentence, though, and I took it to heart.
“If you want to be a writer
you need to write one thousand words,
Monday through Friday,
for the rest of your life.”
Three weeks ago I set out to obey this commandment. I wrote whatever came into my early morning fog-brain. I whined. I complained. I rambled. I typed out numbers and dates to add to my word count. (Two thousand and sixteen — that’s four words.) I stopped at exactly 1000 words every morning for two weeks. I wanted to quit when I read back the blather and twaddle that I found on those pages. Terrible stuff. But I kept going.
After the third week, two things happened.
First, I came to my senses and realized I could make my own rules and set my own goals. I don’t have to follow someone else’s idea of what is required to become a writer. Especially someone who wrote a bad book on writing. I tweaked the word count and assigned a topic. Monday through Friday, for the rest of my life.
Second, I had a divine moment of clarity. All that drivel I had been spewing for three weeks finally cleared the way for deeper understanding, renewed purpose, and clearer vision. Once the gunk was gone, creativity had a chance to flow.
It was a hard climb, but worth the trouble. Slightly out of breath, I feel like I’m on the edge of a huge scenic overlook and am just now getting a view of a sweeping panorama that I didn’t know was coming. (Cue the soundtrack.) I have been slogging up an incline with nothing in my sights, just plodding along in the underbrush, unaware of how far the climb will be. Then, one day, there is space and sky and vista. (Crescendo violins.)
Incubation time is more necessary than I realized.
I need to let an idea sit for three weeks and see what hatches.
I need to stick with a discipline for twenty one days to see what develops.
That’s a valuable lesson.