Writer’s Diary #1: Feathering Your Nest

Today was a good day for writing, even though I didn’t write a word for the book.

Writing a book is like running a marathon, after a marathon, I think. Having never run a marathon, I don’t know if that’s true, but I suspect it is. Why? A book is hard work. It takes a long time. In my experience, writing a book cannot be rushed. Finishing requires consistency over the long hall. To write a book is to keep coming back to the words. Not over days or weeks, but months and years. My first book, including my dissertation, took at least four years. My second, including the web project, took two. The one I am working on is in its fourth. Writing takes time, especially if, like most of us, one has to juggle many responsibilities. So, it’s important to celebrate the small victories, as one would a good training run.

Today was a day of such small victories. I feathered my nest to prepare for the hard work to come: I organized the office, arranged papers, threw away old cables, cleaned my desk, tested equipment, emptied drawers, charged batteries, swept the floor, etc. It took the morning, and by two o’clock, I was spent and anxious. Had I done anything? I had. Preparing to work is work. A big project requires physical and mental space. But, I was grumpy—I had written nothing. So, I resolved to write.

I planned the afternoon with Cal Newport’s Time Block Planner—write this diary, run, and post something. I completed the plan, made dinner, baked bread, washed dishes, wrote a letter, and dug out Virginia Woolf’s diary which I read in bed.

I didn’t work on the book project directly, and an outside observer might have thought my day was procrastination. But, it wasn’t. It was a good day of preparation to write with serious intent.