Monday, May 5, 2008

Constant Practice

Today I just didn't feel like writing the blog.
Laziness, a bit. Perhaps a little jaded today. My enthusiasm waxes and wanes. It usually waxes when a project is new, and wanes when I get deeper in and the enthusiasm of novelty has worn off.

I've been writing this blog consistently--almost every day--since early January. It's been consistent enough that the consistency itself almost justifies a day off. But I'm still awake, and I thought I might just put in a few words about making things happen by working on them.

The constant practice, at its roots, is no more than a constant practice. All you have to do is focus on the practice for the time that you have committed yourself to (or in my case until I've written something that feels like a complete blog post).

In any regular practice, as in our lives as a whole, there are periods when we're up and periods when we're down. The key to being able to have good days--whether writing your dissertation or working on any other project--is to be able to stick with the project through the difficult ones with the awareness that even though the work is consistent, the rewards may not be.

Starting a practice is the most difficult task of all.

Julia Cameron talks about how a writer must write every day, constantly. If you want to finish a writing project, that is the way to do it. Make a constant practice. For the days that you are busy, still carve out that little niche of time--even fifteen minutes. Your commitment to the project would do well by being matched with commitment to a practice.

But a practice with acceptance. So many writers get caught fearing they will not write well enough, or get caught fearing that if they make a commitment and don't keep it, they have somehow failed. If you miss the practice one day, return to it with commitment the next. Don't let the lapse be excuse for further lapses, neither do you want to let the lapse be cause for punishing yourself: it's past; focus on the future practice.

In a number of her chapters Cameron starts by talking about how she's not in a mood to write, and at the end comments on how easy the writing became as she went. It happens this way to me, too. The constant practice allows this growth.

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