“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act, but a habit” ~ Aristotle
A sense of achievement sometimes comes not from racing past the finish line but through sheer perseverance of effort as you move towards your goal. This realisation gets reinforced as i strike off the 250th day of this writing regimen i had set myself last year. Needless to say it hasn’t been a cake-walk, but now the target of # 365 days-a-post-a-day feels more achievable and not just a distant goal. As i had done earlier (# Day75 and # Day 100), # Day 250 too seems a good enough milestone for some reflections about the journey thus far.
One of the first lessons you learn when you undertake such a task is that the ‘theory’ is easy, it’s putting it into practice that is the tough part! (why is that always the case?!) Yes i know all about those tips and techniques for improving one’s creative writing skills (have even taught them to students for years!) ~ discipline and focus should be your mantras when you are working towards achieving a goal; you should do a SWAT analysis of yourself to enhance your productivity; you should carve out a fixed time and dedicate that to your practice; understand your bio-rhythm and utilise your peak-performance-time and avoid those ‘dead-zones’ of your day etc etc. Alas things don’t always work out so systematically! Some days the words are all there, buzzing around in your head striving to break free, but life and its events get in the way. Other days your time is controlled by circumstances that ensure there is just no time to indulge in that luxury of sitting down to compose your thoughts. And then there are those days when there is so much emotional turmoil happening that it becomes impossible to calm your brain and make it focus on the writing task. So one day you are pleased as punch about a great writing-session and the next couple of days things stay neglected and you make do with some short-cuts…a quote, a favourite poem, an email forward, an inspiring picture-quote from the internet, i have used them all–the bottom line for me being to have no blank days!
The other lesson i have learnt is that there are two ways to approach this creative process. The first i had spoken of earlier ~ treating the daily-writing as an exercise for the creative muscle. It is about adopting a sensible training program and watching your creative strength grow. Like you warm up before your workout, here too you need to flex those creative-muscles first. One has to look for prompts, organise thoughts and ideas, research and brainstorm and stay motivated. Your cheerleaders come in handy for that last bit…in my case my husband and daughter have been with me throughout. Some days you perform for this gallery!!
The second is to treat it like a meditation and become centred and mindful. Once you keep that inner door open, inspiration can strike anywhere and at anytime. Sometimes the idea strikes you in the middle of a conversation at a party; sometimes it’s a dialogue from some movie or television serial; there are times when the idea comes from an interesting article in the newspaper or magazine (i have stumbled upon one even in an inflight magazine!); at times you wake up in the middle of the night with a brilliant insight and at other times you have those morning-walk-time-epiphanies ~ it is these brilliant flashes that have spurred me on this creative-ride.
Somewhere i had come across this trivia that if you can average 500 words a day, 5 days a week then you are writing nearly 1,30,000 words a year and that’s akin to composing a book or two or even a dozen short stories! Even little steps, i guess, do count in the long run. As that old childhood litany would say…
“Little drops of water
Little grains of sand
Make the mighty ocean
And this beauteous land…
And the little moments
Humble though they be
Make the mighty ages