Monday, October 12, 2009


Some people (writers, artists, salesmen, whatever) are very good at finding reasons not to (write, paint, make contacts, whatever). And I confess I am frequently one of them. Life steps in and I forget to put things in their proper order. Or I do put them in the right order but that means writing falls down the list for the moment. I've heard this called "the tyranny of the urgent" and I dare say it catches all of us at some point.

Randy Ingermanson - "deranged physicist and award winning author" - wrote once of an arrangement he made with a group of friends that helped him stay focused on his priorities. The basic gist of it was that if he didn't meet a deadline they'd agreed on together, there was a penalty to him. And as he pointed out, it had to be something he couldn't afford to give them.

I told a friend about this last summer and, half joking, said "We should do that. But let's not make it about money - I don't have any of that. How about one of your paintings?" Now, I must say, I didn't think she had agreed to the plan. We were interrupted at that point and went on with our day. But a couple weeks later I was emailing her and closed with "So how's your writing? Am I any closer to owning one of your paintings?" (Total joke this time.) And we hadn't been in touch since then.

Until yesterday when the phone rang.

My wonderful and talented friend called to tell me that she had met the deadline for the particular piece of writing she was working on. She even had the FedEx receipt time-stamped for 3:59 pm (4 pm was the latest she could turn it in). I congratulated her - it was quite a feat and I was very excited for her. But my jaw hit the floor when she told me how instrumental I had been in helping that happen.


She had taken our "deal" very much to heart and had even shed a few tears at one point because she didn't think she'd make it and wasn't willing to part with painting she knew I would ask for. She wrote the final chapters from a hospital bedside in the wee hours of the morning but she GOT IT DONE.


What will it take to get you motivated? I'm not even sure I can always answer that question myself. But let me close with a thought from Hope Clark's Funds for Writers newsletter this week:

"I don't care if you want to be a writer or a plumber, a doctor or a teacher. You need to establish your path and lay out benchmarks to reach those personal goals. The television, the movie and the dust mop can go to hell.

The only time you have is now."

What will it take?

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