Sophomore Effort

Massabesic Lake in Auburn, NH

My plan was to write an entry per week, but I am so far behind in that regard. That is in part due to traveling during the period when I would have written the second entry. To be clear, when I say "due to traveling," it is not the traveling that prevented me from writing, it is that I did not properly prepare, nor was I precise in how or when I would accomplish writing for that week. There were opportunities to write, had I taken them (in retrospect), and I will in the future take advantage.

I am reminded of two things that I read and heard from James Clear, author of Atomic Habits (which I am presently reading—review forthcoming):

  1. Be specific [1]
  2. Don't miss twice [2]

  1. The correct term implementation intention, but I think my depicition is more obvious; p70 ↩︎

  2. It's actually never miss twice—close enough; p201 ↩︎

Those aren't direct quotes; they're paraphrased, since they are from memory. As for after this is published, I will look up the exact quotes and include them as footnotes. However, they mean the following:

Be specific

It's not enough to say, "I'll blog," nor even, "I'll blog once per week." (I declared the latter.) Rather, one must declare the how and the when. For example, I am amending my commitment to: "I shall write blog entries at my desk at 8pm on Sunday and Tuesday evenings." (Which also means that I am doubling the frequency of my blogging.)

Don't miss twice

Having a string of successful commitments feels good. A calendar full of X's where something one desires has been accomplished (e.g., walking, reading, language practice). Missing a day (or instance) can be discouraging and even make one feel dejected about failing to continue the string. Instead of allowing a feeling of failure to overcome you, focus instead on the second goal: Don't let two days (or instances) in a row go by without an X! Sick, traveling, a crisis—whatever the cause to miss a day, just get right back on the next one.

Where do you get your ideas?

Get outside. Nature is a muse.

One of the most frequent questions for artists is, "Where do your ideas come from?" as though the Muses of Greek mythology are real beings whispering into the ears of artists around the world. Even here, with this entry, I feel "meta," writing about writing.

Another important point is that repetition creates opportunity. Simply by writing on a consistent basis, one draws more ideas to write. This is true for any creative art: Stories (or whatever one's passion is) come from writing, not from a mystical well of creativity gifted from the gods.

One of the fears that I long felt (and still do to a degree) is that I will constantly or always—or even just frequently—write about writing, rather than a variety of topics and applying the craft of writing to communicate other things. The fact is, though, that merely by fostering the habit of writing, the rest will come of its own accord.

I'm Busy on Sunday

Having crafted the specific habit above, it turns out I can't write at the time specified, because I have an appointment that happens to occur in that time slot. So, rather than miss it, I have gotten a head start on writing, and will have this done the day before. I want to meet the commitments I set for myself, and looking ahead at my calendar to see when there are conflicts and dangers of missing my regular slots, I'll jump in ahead of time an make sure that I accomplish my goals.

None of the ideas that I've so far shared originated with me. These are my internalization and application of the ideas that those who have come before imparted to me. I'm grateful for their teachings and happy to share my own journey.

Thanks for coming along for the ride.

Sushi: The very best junk food.
Mickey Mullin

Mickey Mullin

I’ve learned a great many excellent lessons that I’ve heretofore failed to apply. Here is where that changes. Follow me on my journey from corporate drudge to fully realized human.
Manchester, NH, USA