The school work is ramping up (even if it seems like they’ve yet to have a full week) and so is the homework. This often leads to some mild paralysis and procrastinating. Which in turn leads to some frayed parental nerves. Even if I can recognize what is happening. It’s the same thing that often plagues me when I need to get my own writing or exercising done.
Too much focus on the outcome makes the gap between now and being done seem much larger than it might be.
So we’ve talked to the girls about changing their focus from the outcome (being done and that yawning gap to get there) to what they can do right now. When you shrink it down to the next five minutes, doing what you know you need to do becomes much easier.
Don’t focus on writing a thousand words. Focus on writing the first five sentences.
Don’t focus on the entire packet of math problems, focus on the first one. When they focus on doing the first exercise, getting started is easier and action becomes inevitable.
A new co-worker found out about my book thing. Like a lot of people, she wanted to know how I got it done. How did I write books and work a full-time job?
The pat answer is that you don’t write a book in one chunk. You write it a little at a time, day by day. If it’s important to you, you find the time.
And maybe that’s how it is now after I’ve made writing a habit. But it didn’t start that way. I finished the first book because I didn’t know any better. This quote from Orson Welles when asked where his confidence came from says it better than I can:
“Ignorance! Ignorance! Sheer ignorance, you know. There’s no confidence to equal it. It’s only when you know something about a profession that you’re timid or careful.”
Sometimes it’s far better not to know. Go on an adventure, people. Don’t wait. Be an amateur, explore the untried and find new ground.
The other night we ended up watching a Cesar Milan episode on TV. Ally will stop at anything with a dog. In the episode, he talked about projecting the right energy to your dog. The same could probably be said about my kids. When Cece and I get at loggerheads, Michelle likes to remind me that I’m the adult and that maybe it’s not always her, maybe she is reacting to me. To my energy.
As someone that works remotely and spends most of the day alone, she might have a point. I’m not letting the kids completely off the hook, sometimes they are just little monsters, but looking in the mirror first is probably a better teen management tactic than actually speaking first. I’m quickly learning that even my most innocuous comments can provoke.
Check the mirror, check the energy. If I can show them that things are good with me, they might be better with everyone else.
At the very least, Dash will be better behaved.
It’s taken almost all of my 45 years to slowly get comfortable with the idea that most of writing and being creative is about figuring it out on the page.
The mistake I used to make (and sometimes still do) was thinking that I had to have everything sorted before I started writing or trying to solve a problem. Over time, I’ve learned it’s usually the other way around: putting something, almost anything, down on the page gives me an idea, which leads to another idea, or thought, which gives me more ideas. You get the idea.
That’s one lesson I’d love the girls to learn in less than 45 years. Just start. Don’t worry about being wrong or falling on your face. The fastest way to a good idea or the right idea is often a series of mistakes or false starts.
Just start, girls, then keep going…
I think I’m going to miss the little Star Wars-shaped appliance that has been sitting on our counter for the last two weeks. It’s going back to its rightful owner soon. Perhaps it’s new appliance enthusiasm or just the fad of it but I’ve used it far more than I initially thought I might. It’s not perfect but it does a few things really well.