Working in Chaos
This week for me is packed with interviews, getting the word out for The Lion’s Gate. Looking at my calendar I see block after block of twenty minutes, thirty minutes marked down for appointments.
How will I get any work done?
1. I’m gonna work in the cracks.
I’ll have to find intervals. There won’t be many because what time isn’t taken up with book promotion will be devoured by personal stuff, family obligations, etc. But still there will be cracks. I tell myself, “Steve, by all rights, you should accomplish absolutely NOTHING this week. So even one page, even one paragraph is gravy. Steal it. See if you can make something out of nothing this week.”
That’s my attitude. I’m gonna try to make it a game.
2. I will only think big.
No “mouse medicine” this week. No fine-tuning, no crawling over typed lines touching every word with my whiskers like a mouse. This week will be eagle medicine. The view from high, high in the sky.
When I do get forty-five minutes or an hour, I will sit down and blast out anything that comes to me. I’ll try to keep the ideas big and risky. I’ll do stuff that I might hesitate to take on during a normal week. I won’t self-censor. And I certainly won’t read anything over. My expectations will be low, low, low. I’ll be ready, when I read this week’s stuff ten days from now, to junk all of it and not blame myself.
Who knows? Something unexpected might pop out.
3. I will not work “in sequence.”
If I’m up to Chapter X in the project I’m working on, I won’t try to do Chapter X+1. Instead I’ll ask myself, “What’s missing, missing, missing?” I won’t have enough time this week to sit down and really get a rhythm going. The best I can hope for is to snatch something out of the air.
That’s okay. Sometimes what you grab on the fly can be pretty good. Sometimes it fits into an empty place you never even knew you had.
4. I’ll remember that chaos can be healthy.
A few years ago I had surgery and came home from the hospital with two different infections. I will spare you the details, except to say that I had to work standing up, naked from the waist down. This went on for about five weeks. Bottom line: I did some great work in my T-shirt and flip-flops.
The Muse has a weird sense of humor. Sometimes she likes chaos. She gives you stuff when you least expect it.
5. Chaos is a permanent condition.
This coming week for me will be particularly chaotic. But how is that different from any other week? If I were a single Mom, OMG, chaos would be my life. If I’m in school, if I’m working two jobs, if I’m just basic-issue loony, OCD, scattered, zoned, totally freaked by life in general and my own idiosyncratic nuttiness, it’s chaos all day every day. That’s the playing field. I might as well get used to it.
Bottom bottom line: I’m gonna get something done this week. I’m not gonna cave before the period even begins. I’m quite optimistic actually. I’m hoping, with luck, for something good.
A 1-Day Event With Steven Pressfield
Join an exclusive gathering for writers who are in the ring.