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Archive for the ‘other people's stuff’ Category

Many writers will tell you that you need to write every day. It’s something I beat myself up about regularly. (Just add it to the list. I’ll do anything to procrastinate a little longer.)

A perhaps slightly lesser known piece of advice is to begin typing something that’s already been written. You know, you grab a piece of writing – yours, or a copy of War and Peace you happen to have lying around – and you simply type it out. The idea is that eventually your mind will begin to wonder towards its creative side and you’ll start typing some new words. Your new words.

I guess it’s a kind of, ‘if you build it they will come’ thing. You’re saying to your brain, ‘Okay, I’m here at my desk. My fingers are typing away. Now bring it on.’

On most days I do write a lot of words, but very few of them are for me or my creative works. But you know, somehow, even the act of writing and editing technical documents, business copy and all the rest of it does help me in my own daily writing. I mean, I don’t want to pump out garbage on any job I’m doing. So I try to be as creative as possible within the confines of the work. And by taking this approach, it means I rarely have the problem of sitting down and confronting a blank page.

When I reach for my creative work, all those hours of writing other people’s stuff have been my training. My mind and body have been here before. They know what has to be done.

You can do it too. The secret of success is it to keep it simple and start slowly.

If you hadn’t walked further than your letter box for years you wouldn’t expect to compete in a marathon. Writing’s no different. If you’re a really unfit writer, use somebody else’s words to get you going and get your body used to the idea of sitting and typing words.

It might be the ultimate cheat, but hey, whatever works – right?

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Today, the torrent that’s been my year-so-far has slowed down – momentarily at least – and I’ve risen, gasping for air, to the surface. How exciting! A few days to breathe, kick off a couple of other projects I thought would require the midnight oil burner, and maybe get some me-time.

Right. Tomorrow. #1. Start the …. #2. Sort the…. #3. Clean the…. #4. Get the….. #5. Go to….#6. Have lunch with…. #7. Call…..

Oh god, there I going making lists again.

Why can’t I stop doing that? What’s so addictive about lists – especially really, really long ones I can’t possibly get done in the one, tiny, weeny day I’ve had off in god knows how long.

I saw a sticker on a car the other day, in fancy schmantzy writing: Justify your existence. I wanted to shout, NO! Don’t you get it?? I want to stop justifying my existence. It’s all I ever do…

The endless to-do lists are a clue. So is my inability to stop and smell the roses (without noticing the weeds I have to pull out or that the poor things could do with some fertilizer).

…the thing is, I know I’m not alone out here. We get just a bit addicted to our busy-ness and we find it hard to sit still – in a conscious state that is. Yeah, we might vege out in front of the TV after our power wind-down (aka wine-downing), but we’re not so good at not trying to be everything to everyone, while keeping the house in order, the kids lives in order, and the business/finances in order.

When was the last time you looked at the chaos around you and shrugged. Or when your kid/significant other said ‘have you seen my…’ and you said ‘nah’ without budging an inch. Or when you, in a fully-conscious, living-in-the-moment state, just didn’t try to do everything.

I can’t remember the last time I did that. Except in my head. Because we’re programmed to nurture, reduce chaos, facilitate others, and look good doing it.

“Justify your existence”? Oh, we’ve done that already.

Rip!! Crumple!! Chuck!!

That was the to-do list for tomorrow. Hmmmm. I’ve just discovered my diaphram – and I’m breathing again.

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… or, my friend just ate my weekend.

I’m going to keep it short because, as I’ve just pointed out, there’s not much weekend left. What I’m wondering, is how do we go about managing our friends in a world where friendships have become so important but don’t always have the same resilience that being family (and therefore stuck with each other) can have.

And it’s not that I have a problem with my friend eating my weekend. It’s more about, what do you do when other people’s problems are beyond you? When you don’t know what advice to give, or sometimes even what to say?

I have a friend who takes on too many of her friends’ problems – she manages it by staying single and therefore able to give them her all. Not a great long term solution for her.

I have another friend who shuts herself off from other people on a day to day basis – she manages it by being absorbed by her own family. Not many of her friendships endure.

My own tactic? I hadn’t thought about until now. Until deciding that my life had to take priority, sometimes. Previously I’d manage it by taking it all on, and trying desperately (not always successfully) to keep too many balls in the air. Not something I can survive long term.

So what do you? What are you tactics? Suggestions?

Perhaps it’s time to apply a touch of that family-type honesty to our family of friends. If they can handle it, I guess you’re stuck together forever.

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