Sunday, September 20, 2009

Beating ourselves up

This morning while getting ready for work, I was listening to Sunday Morning. They had a segment on E.L. Doctorow. The content was wonderful, but what caught my ear was Mr. Doctorow saying he was lucky if he wrote five hundred words a day. I literally stopped what I was doing to ponder that statement.

So many of us beat ourselves up because we don't accomplish everything on our to-do list. Those of us who are writers, well we know what we do.

This statement came on the heels of another idea that we need to slow down. We have the slow-food movement. People are talking about acquired attention deficit disorder. Yet so many of us think if we don't get this done today it will never get done.

I would say, it will not get done unless we allow ourselves to slow down, take a deep breath and stop beating ourselves over the head and shoulders for not being perfect. If Mr. Doctorow can write five hundred words a day and accomplish what he has in a lifetime (just stop to look at all the accolades that have come his way) then I believe we can also do quality work if we allow ourselves the time do to so.

There is nothing wrong with having a to do list, or goals. What is wrong is running our lives on overdrive to accomplish everything. I know there are those of you who would say I was guilty of doing the very thing I would say not do to. Yes, I have a number of interest and ideas that I pursue. What I do, however, to accomplish all I do is to allow myself time to think about what I want and then work a lot out in my head. When I feel it is time, I go ahead and jump in.
You see, many years ago I was given the gift of being told I could do anything I want. The next gift was the idea that if I just spent two hours, no more, on any project I would be able to complete so much more over a lifetime. That is my secret to doing all I do and still having time to sleep, read, and write along with living the rest of my life.

So let's slow down, give ourselves time and do quality work instead of quantity work. Enjoy the time we have and cherish it, love ourselves more and beat up on ourselves less. Now that is an idea whose time I know has come.


Janet Grace Riehl said...


Good advice. We can integrate our writing into our lives and find balance.

Janet Riehl

Anne Randolph said...

500 words as day is a great goal, that is only 2 pages. Julia Cameron suggests writing 3 pages a day and from this she has written all her books. Currently I am doing more editing than free writing except I do have a chance 2 times a week when the group meets. So right let's applaud our creativity and production and be proud that we do this seriously.
Anne Randolph

Mary E. Trimble said...

Food for thought, Doris. Being kind to ourselves is key, isn't it?

Heidiwriter said...

WONDERFUL! This is something that's been on my mind lately, as I'm feeling burn-out from a busy year of marketing, writing, editing, etc. I forget to slow down and "fill my well" and then I beat myself up because I'm not accomplishing everything I need to do!

Alice Trego said...

This is great, Doris! Wonderfully said. As I read your piece, I thought about what I've done recently rather than beat myself up over not getting things done -- I took my mind on a vacation! :-)


PennyS said...

I did The Artists Way and wrote 3 pages a day for a year. Mostly before sunrise, by candlelight. It taught me that I could stick to a plan that was reasonable --- for me. 500 words? I like that --- 500 careful & thoughtful or ziggy & wiggy words based on one's own choice and at a speed of one's own choice.

Ann Parker said...

As a slow writer, I really like this! Thanks for the post! :-)

Janet Oakley said...

I've been meeting that goal for some time. It doesn't have to be the same time of day, but lately I do go off to a cafe and start writing. At the end of day whenever that is, 500 words a day. Little by little does the trick.

Lori Orser said...

This is absolutely what I needed to hear right now. Such good advice, even with deadlines looming. I'll take that deep breath, and let things work themselves out in my head (I'll ruminate!), and then jump in and work! Thank you!

Carol Buchanan said...

Good one, Dori! Timely & needs to be said!

Anonymous said...

Oh Dori,

Amen. Amen. Amen. This blog was perfect timing and on the heels of a busy day at school with the beginning of an online course with a recent offer to teach a writer's workshop, and being within only 10 hours or so of finishing my new book. I'm going to breeeeaaaathe. Ahhhh.

Nancy Oswald

Gwyn Ramsey said...

Great article. I agree, slow down and smell the roses, or coffee if you prefer.

Thanks for sharing with your readers.

Gwyn Ramsey