Three Rules of Work & Three Reasons for Failure

“Three Rules of Work: Out of clutter find simplicity: from discord find harmony: In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”
Albert Einstein

Even though I had hours of editing work in front of me I decided to take the time yesterday afternoon and wade through my piles of paper and do a thorough cleaning of my office. My husband moved around some bookcases so that my office had better flow and I spent three hours going through paperwork, filing, shredding, organizing and getting rid of things I no longer have any use for. My usual method of moving piles of paper to other piles of paper was no longer working for me. I will be adding a lot more books to Book Mooch by the weekend. Walking into the office this morning there is a sense of calm instead of chaos. There are many decluttering/organizing books on the market and I have read many of them but I think you have to figure out what works for you. Knowing that all my mail and paperwork is taken care of and papers are filed lets me do the creative writing with a clear head…there isn’t the nagging feeling of “shouldn’t I be doing something else?”

On that note I found an excerpt on writing from Annie Dillard’s book The Writing Life in the middle of one of my paper volcano’s Annie writes:

“When you write, you lay out a line of words. The line of words is a miner’s pick, a woodcarver’s gouge, a surgeon’s probe. You wield it, and it digs a path you follow. Soon you find yourself deep in new territory. Is it a dead end, or have you located the real subject? You will know tomorrow, or this time next year.”

When do you know your writing is ready? When can it stand on its own. Dillard reminds the writer that “The written word is weak. Many people prefer life to it…this writing that you do, that so thrills you, that so rocks and exhilarates you, as if you were dancing next to the band, is barely audible to anyone else.”

I think I will have to read the rest of this book to see where she is going with this but in the rest of the paragraph she suggests that readers need time to hear the subtle music of writing. We are going from our life which is loud and demanding to mere words on a page. Readers need time to get to this other silent world the writer creates. Perhaps this references the craft of writing, the fine detail work necessary so that the readers can hear music in your words. In a previous paragraph she goes on to say about editing, “The reason not to perfect a work as it progresses is that, concomitantly, original work fashions a form the true shape of which it discovers only as it proceeds, so the early strokes are useless, however fine their sheen.” A reminder not to edit as you write but to write and perhaps let it sit, going back to it when your entire work is complete.

Words I needed to hear, but they were lost in the midst of the clutter.

Today, ask yourself what prevents you from having a peaceful writing space? What can you do to clear the way for a successful creative writing month? In Noah St. John’s book Permission to Succeed, St. John writes there are only “three reasons for all human failure…fear, ignorance and entropy.” What obstacles if any are blocking your path to success? He writes that “Success is natural, because life really wants and actually needs us to succeed.” Now get back to work!

The Writing Nag

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