Recently, on a business trip to Charlotte, I brought along the book The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. So rarely do I have focused time to just sit and read a book. Usually I am capturing half hours here and there on the train, or on weekend mornings when I have coffee, or at a doctor's office. I had hours of pre-boarding and flight time to actually dive into this self-help book, not because I'm unhappy, but curious as to how I can be even happier and how could I use what I learned about myself to help tackle finishing my novel.
Rubin states a lot of the obvious in her book, but there were some takeaways that hit home.
Rubin has what she calls her "Twelve Commandments," things that can set you on the right course for happiness. Here's what I came up with for me:
- (and most important) Don't sweat the small shit
- Do more of what you enjoy
- Don't take it personally (because...)
- Assholes will be assholes, let them be
- Get your house in order (clean up, toss out, display what matters, hang up coats, put shoes away, and don't let the kitchen island and table become a dumping ground)
- Find one thing to be grateful for every day
- Don't waste time
- Read what you write
- Exercise the body and mind
- Travel (even if it's locally, it gets creative juices flowing)
- Be you
- Chase your passion
If you go back and read past blogs of mine, you'll see a theme. Me, stating the obvious, always making promises to myself that I will finish the manuscript. As I attend conferences and other literary events, I look around at the other authors out there who have done it--they've finished their book and it's published...and I want to face palm. Of course, they met their goal. They put in the time. Kept their ass in the chair.
I seem to always have an excuse.
Here's my top ten most common excuses that keep me from finishing the edits on my current WIP:
- The house is a mess, I should really clean (insert room, table, closet, etc. here)
- It's too early/late in the day, no good work will come out of me at this hour
- The work isn't ready/good enough
- I'll never make a ton of money from it, so why rush
- I'm probably just going to quit writing anyway, focus on other things I want to do, like reading all those books I've collected
- I deserve a break and should go do something fun
- I should take the pups for a walk
- I'm hungry
- Maybe I should look at the other novels I've attempted to write and work on those
- I need a nap
So, in an effort to reach my goal (being published), I've created a routine, where I block Sundays so all I do is (laundry and) write. Then during the week, I write on the train (thank you Scrivener for iPad!). I use my twelve commandments as a guide, and if one of my excuses gets in the way, I give it the finger and get to work.
Realistically, I could push this damn thing out and have a Christmas gift for friends and family.
Now that would make me truly happy.