The Morning Before You Didn't Write

The morning before you didn’t write is a morning filled with promise.

You are not writing just yet. You are sitting somewhere, in a cafe or maybe just lying in bed staring at the ceiling thinking that it will be just fine if you lay there for ten minutes more (which will turn into a dreamy half an hour). You think that if you spend just a little more time thinking about what you will write it will make the writing that much easier.

But no, easy isn’t the right word. The word you search for and then find is clarity. Yes, with a little more time – the verb percolate plays across your lips – you see that some sense of clarity will come to the jumble of fine images that look painfully perfect in your mind, but which you know you will dash to pieces with your ham-fisted work at the keyboard.

And so, you wait.

You wait another day to begin.. the promises of the day before lost to some other distraction or desire. A book perhaps? A movie. A dinner. An hour spent staring at a wall? It hardly matters.

You’ve waited and yesterday is forever gone and today is tomorrow, and as we know tomorrow never comes.

How did you get here? How did you come from this place where everything was so obvious and the course of action laid out with neat, orderly checkboxes? How did you let yourself forget what you had to do?

There are a hundred people right now who will sell you a curtain to wrap around the truth. They will show you eager faces of the converted who in turn will hold you rapt with their recitations of the program’s core foundational principles (redundancy included at no extra charge).

And you might buy. Yes, you might buy these programs for they are never free. After all, if you had the secret to a happy, productive life up your sleeve why would you give it away for free?

But the simple fact is that those who hold the true secret to a happy, productive life have no secret at all. They give it away. They give it away for free by being that which they long to be and in doing so serve as an example of how to do it. Those who would sell it are just looking to make a buck, and there’s nothing wrong with that. There is always someone willing to pay for the chance to cut in line.

So, perhaps I can save you some time and money by just blurting out the secret to getting somewhere in life. You have two options:

  1. Work your ass off for several decades.
  2. Sleep with someone who will work their ass off for you.

There is a third option, which is getting lucky, but I hesitate to include it because it may give someone hope that perhaps that might just happen to them. Here’s another little secret of the universe: luck doesn’t come to those who wish for it. So, forget about luck and maybe you’ll get lucky… But probably not.

It should be pretty obvious that I’ve selected option #1 and so far everything is working out pretty well. If you’re on the #2 plan, don’t bother knocking at my door. I’m taken and even if I wasn’t I’m not the sort to do someone else’s homework.

At any rate, I occasionally I forget that I’m on the work-your-ass-off plan. I dream of thinking my way out of it. Finding some short cut. In short, I hope like hell I’ll get lucky. It’s natural. Everyone (and I do mean everyone) bumps up against this problem.

There are signs when you’re falling off the plan before you actually take the head-on plunge and screw everything up entirely. For me, it’s diversions. I have a mind that is fascinated by shiny bits of knowing. It might be technology or a field of research. It usually boils down to the How of things because I like to take stuff apart and put it back together.

I know I’m on the wrong path when I decide to learn a new programming language or I spend a huge amount of time with some new technological toy. Picking up a crapload of books on a field I’ve never studied before is also a sign that I’m about to take a spill.

Granted, these things are not terrible vices. I could certainly do much, much worse. And I’ve learned some very cool things along the way.

Pacing is not one of my stronger skills, and I mean that in the life sense. I usually go full speed at a wall and ram it repeatedly until I get the results I want. Sometimes this works and sometimes I end up with a headache.

They key is finding a balance, and balance only comes with conscious practice. You must be aware of your failings, understand the itch that needs scratched, and be watchful that it doesn’t take over entirely. The other bit of advice is to make sure that you don’t beat yourself up too much if you do take a tumble. You aren’t doing yourself any favors by not living a little.


Do you know the signs that indicate you’re wobbling off the plot?

5 thoughts on “The Morning Before You Didn't Write

  1. I’m on the path now.

    I’m writing every morning for an hour. Even when no words get committed (fixing some structural problems), I’m still putting in my hour.

    My next hour is looking like writing for a blog post.

    It feels good to get 2 hours work done every day, no matter what. And I have to be pretty sick to not get 2 hours done.
    .-= Dave Doolin´s last blog ..As The Internet Evolves – Anonymity Go Bye Bye =-.

  2. Your article hit home. I have two different novel writing software programs on my PC laptop and Scrivener on my Mac. (I actually like Scrivener, but it is a distraction).

    I spend hours on research, organizing and backing up files as well as looking for lost files. Where did I save the prologue? Hmm. It’s faster to just rewrite it.

    I started using your little app on my iPod Touch and I now write my required 600 words a day before I allow myself to do ANYTHING else. I have a document labeled “wordvomit” that I open every morning and start writing. It doesn’t have to be “good” it doesn’t get edited, spellchecked or corrected in any manner until I have those 600 words.

    I am amazed by how much of it is actually useable. Thank you for developing and sharing this valuable tool

  3. Clarity, that’s my problem at the moment. My WIP is a draft full of nonsense and won’t unravel. But sometimes I find a mindless displacement activity – hoovering, chopping mushrooms – helps me clarify what I do want to do with my WIP next. When I get back to the keyboard, I’m much clearer about where I’m going.

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