Tuesday, February 5, 2008


Today is Mardi Gras.
One thing that can get lost in the focus on finishing a piece of work is the need to be able to put it aside for a time. Focus is a good thing, but too much of a good thing can be a problem. Sometimes the right thing to do is to rest; it's good to take some time off from your work. Of course this is said in the context of assuming that you are actually working.

But there are a couple of levels to this: the practical level and the emotional level. On the practical level, one needs to make progress and get work done. If one hasn't been getting work done, then there is some value in sticking to the project with the intention of getting work done. But the emotional level is different. Even if you haven't been getting work done, the constant pressure we put on ourselves is work of a sort, and it's good to take a rest from it. By setting aside time to celebrate, we open emotional space in our lives. Ideally, of course, we're diligent and then when it's time to celebrate we can put aside our work with a clear mind and a sense of satisfaction. The ideal is difficult to reach, however: diligence is easier said than done.

Ideally, we find a balance between diligence and celebration that enhances our sense of self-worth and our enjoyment of the world. There is a real role for celebration in our lives: if nothing else, celebration is something to look forward to. Enter into celebration with enthusiasm and joy, and then, when the celebration is over, you can return to your work with both diligence and a fresh mind.

And a fresh mind is important to writers--it's good to be able to look back at what we've done most recently and assess how well it works in our larger vision of what we wish to accomplish.

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