Before you speak, ask yourself, is it kind, is it necessary, is it true, does it improve on the silence? -Sathya Sai Baba

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

500 words at a time.

Two days in a row! Woo-hoo! Seriously, you take your celebrations where you can find them.

The book comes along, slowly, but that's a function of the routine I've given myself. I've taken a page from Graham Greene's playbook, and I write 500 words a day. More if I've got them, but I have to hit at least 500 words. That way, I still want to write when I'm done. It's a function, oddly enough, of doing yoga.

"What," I hear you say, "does yoga have to do with writing?" Well, back in March, on Ash Wednesday, I decided that I would do yoga everyday for Lent. Rather than get rid of something, deny myself something, I figured it would be better to add a discipline. It went pretty well. I had a great program to help me do it which allowed me to keep track of how much time I spent per day, how much time per week, it allowed me to set up specific amounts of time to do certain poses, and it allowed me to see how many consecutive days I'd done what I said I was going to do.

This measuring, demanding a certain amount from oneself, allows for an amazing freedom. Aside from feeling slightly virtuous when you've completed your allotted time (no matter what other, less wholesome activities you might have engaged in before or after) you could also have an objective measure. There was no weaseling out of it - either you'd done it or not.

The sense of order that this allowed me let me structure my day. It let me set boundaries with people around me - there was something I had to complete everyday, and everything else had to take a back seat. And as the days piled up, I realized that I was changing. My attitude was changing and my sense of self. And I realized that I was actually quite strong and capable, if I allowed myself to be. I'm just past day 200 of doing yoga everyday, and I plan to keep going past a year, God willing.

So that concept of gradual accretion seems to be working for me in the writing department, too. This is what I want to do, and so I do it, everyday, and after I'm done, I can go through my day, knowing that I've done something important towards completing a piece of work that means a lot to me. I don't have to write it all today, and it doesn't get away from me with my usual procrastination. I chip away at it. 500 words at a time.

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