A few weekends ago I had a plan to write on Saturday and Sunday afternoon, as I often do.
On that Sunday I had one of the most fluid writing days I’ve had in a long time. Stuck places came unstuck. Stretches that seemed like deserts barren of ideas became fruitful and multiplied. I was in the groove, the flow. I made a lot of progress.
But the day before, Saturday… that was different. On Saturday I had nothin’. Stumped. I plowed ahead dutifully for several hours until the poverty of my imagination so exhausted me that I finally quit early for the day… and I despaired of finding a way to even approach any of this material when I got up the next day – Sunday… the day where, it turned out, creativity and I were best buddies (see above).
I drew two thoughts from this experience (it’s far from the first time I’ve had it). One is that I can’t make predictions about my productivity based on a limited sample – a day, a week, a month… And this goes for good days too – just because I had a great day on that Sunday doesn’t predict anything. I just don’t know what tomorrow will bring.
The deeper lesson for me, though, was that I had to show up on the ‘bad’ day for the ‘good’ day to happen. I don’t think I could’ve had one without the other. I was tilling the hard soil one day… the next, something grew.
My frustration and my disappointment in myself was what Saturday was about. As hopeless as it felt, I tried again on Sunday. And on Sunday the sun was shining, the birds were chirping, the babies were laughing. Eventually the sun comes out.
It would be nice if I knew in advance which would be the easy days… Couldn’t I just show up for those and, on the hard days, go to the movies or something? Well… no. I don’t get to know in advance how productive my work will be on a particular day (or week, etc…). I just get to choose to show up or not. And the more I show up, the more ‘good’ days I have.
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