Monday, September 6, 2010

Too Much on Your Plate? Get a Smaller Plate

just dishes, not Titanic dishes
Years ago, I attended the Titanic Exhibition. Certainly, there were many fascinating aspects of this, but a few things (in addition to the devastation of the tragedy) struck me. While looking at a large picture of the many workers who built the vessel, you could not find one overweight person. Certainly, these were men who labored all day far away from the sedentary life of a desk worker, but it still was enough of a difference between what we see now that it stuck out.

Another big difference? Plate sizes. A platter was the size of today's dinner plate. Their dinner plates were close to the size of our bread plates. I felt like I was looking at a child's tea party set, not dish-ware that people commonly used.

The implications to our waistlines aside (I'm sure there's more to our obesity crisis than plate size, although it could be a big part of the problem), what can we learn about our writing now from the recovered relics of the past?

Taking on too much , All At Once, stresses our minds, bodies, and our writing

Setting goals is important, but if the goals are unrealistic, they will do more harm than good. For example, if you decide you want to your daily word count to suddenly quadruple in order to get the draft of your novel written, you may find your mind bloated with stress at the idea of force feeding that much extra work on yourself.

Big projects and ideas get digested much healthier in smaller amounts

Instead, break your big goals down into more realistic segments. You will place less stress on all of your systems, and the feeling of accomplishment will feel light and airy rather than a hard, painful weight holding you back from continuing on. Even if you are just thinking about ALL of the other projects you have to do, you are causing your mind to binge on too much, overextending your mental energy.

This does not mean that eventually, you will not be able to handle more work in a given amount of time. You will. This will just train you to make healthier choices when you sit down to write. You may end up piling up those smaller plates later on, but they will be filled with healthy portions of projects--the veggies of your writing diet, if you will.

Stay away from The Buffet when you are struggling to keep your writing healthy

Losing focus is detrimental to your writing's health. Hungry for beneficial writing time, you may stack your plate with so many different choices or projects that many things get sampled, but rarely finished. Your writing as a whole tends to get overwhelmed and sluggish, because you've again moved away from your goal of a well-balanced writing diet.

Just as our daily diets need to sustain us throughout our days, how we consume our writing time can provide fit or flabby results. It's up to us. If we make the healthier choices when we begin the work it will be less difficult to tone up our prose, our marketing efforts, our research, our editing, etc., later.

It's great to have a cornucopia of ideas for your writing, but attempting to act on them all a once may suck you into the dreamer trap, instead of the success of Doing. Do you have a hard time deciding which of your writing projects to work on when you settle into your writing day?

1 comment:

  1. When I'm happy, I can write well for hours. But I too, fall prey to DISTRACTION! And ENERGY DRAIN. It talkes a tremendous amount of energy to create a space and stick to it.


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