Last week I had a creative project to work on. I needed to come up with an idea, but I found myself completely and utterly blank. Usually I can think of something, however bad, to start with, and then edit and analyse and improve… but this day I was empty. I couldn’t even think of one single terrible idea, let alone a good one.
Still, I was trying to be disciplined and so I took Ann Pachett’s advice and applied it to my situation. I went to a coffee shop with a notebook and a pen and I just sat there, staring at a blank page. Continue Reading
I am not a morning person, and likely never will be. If I have to rush around in the mornings, I will be unhappy for the rest of the day. Both my body and my mind need time to wake up, gradually and quietly.
If I am rushed in the morning, my day is pretty much ruined. I feel stressed the whole day, as though there’s an itchy tag scratching at my soul. No matter how much I try to adjust, there’s something bothering me.
Ann Pachett has some great advice on writing that applies to an awful lot of our endeavours in life:
“If you want to write and can’t figure out how to do it, trying picking an amount of time to sit at your desk every day. Start with twenty minutes, say, and work up as quickly as possible to as much time as you can spare. Do you really want to write? Sit for two hours a day. During that time, you don’t have to write, but you must stay at your desk without distraction: no phone, no Internet, no books. Sit still quietly. Do this for a week, for two weeks. Do not nap or check your e-mail. Keep on sitting for as long as you remain interested in writing. Sooner or later you will write because you will no longer be able to stand not writing, or you’ll get up and turn the television on because you will no longer be able to stand all the sitting. Either way, you’ll have an answer.”
—From “The Getaway Car” in This is the Story of a Happy Marriage
There are a lot of things I wish I had known in my 20s: the rather unflattering nature of khaki trousers; the importance of sleep; the gift of maintaining a size 8 whilst eating Taco Bell and frozen pizza; the joy of consuming actual fresh vegetables. But right at the top of that list? Myself. I wish I had known myself better.
It would have saved me a lot of anxiety, tears, and guilt about things over which I had no control, and empowered me to take joy, be confident, and grow into many things over which I did.
“Know Thyself.” This ancient maxim, written on the temple of Apollo in Delphi, and used by several of the ancient Greek philosophers, remains one of the wisest pieces of advice handed down through the ages. (It is also one of the most difficult.)
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