Practicing Persistence

Today we have a visitor. Please welcome Waverly Penmanship, writer and all around human being. Waverly has agreed to share with us a typical day in the life of a full-time writer. She’s a bit shy so I’ll just transcribe what she has told me. Here’s what she did yesterday:

  • Morning pages, three, no matter the size of the current journal, accompanied by tea and classical music
  • On-line chores–sorted, read and responded to email, browsed and responded to Face Book, likewise Linked In
  • Visited a new bookstore to put books on consignment and lobby for events connecting the store, writers and readers
  • Lunched alone at a diner so she could people watch, which counts as writerly research
  • Assembled and sent off her daily submission of  work to one of many respected literary magazines
  • Selected materials for a reading in the evening, choosing pieces for their timeliness and freshness to the known audience
  • An hour of personal journaling to work through a nagging relationship issue
  • Two hours at a small, monthly round-robin reading

In between these tasks she attended to dishes, dogs, a haircut and a stop at the grocery store. What’s missing? TV–Waverly tells me that she has not turned on the TV since sometime in August because of the annoying political ads. Now she just doesn’t miss it. (This might not work for a writer of screenplays.) The day was too full for reading other than a few pages as she settled into bed, but most days she crams in an hour or two. Do you see any time spent on fresh fiction or poetry? Me neither. Waverly, what happened to your creativity? She says, softly, that a couple of times a week she escapes domestic distraction like phones, doorbells and barking dogs to go sit in a coffee shop and work on new writing projects or deep revisions. A two-hour block a couple of times a week generally brings her some satisfaction.

Waverly knows from reading Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery of anything, so she invests her time in writing, rather than spending time or wasting time. In addition to gagging the TV, she no longer does much recreational shopping. If you have questions or advice for Waverly, let me know and I will gladly forward your concerns.

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