Why I’m Doing It

Confession: The 2/6 blog post was sort of an attempt to explain to myself why I don’t seem to have struck a rhythm in working on the book. That’s just the way the process is! OK, it was justification for seemingly going in multiple directions or no direction at all.

But I suppose that, just as in many technical writing projects, I’m waiting for the project to reveal its direction to me, as the content often does after I’ve spent time with it. That’s exactly where I am right now. I should feel neither guilt nor panic, because I recognize this as a proven step in the familiar process, right?

Mm, no? I’m not buying it either. My seeming lack of discipline is because I don’t have a deadline. Obviously, when I work on paying technical writing projects, this is not a problem. Either I’m given a deadline by the project sponsor/project manager or I agree upon a deadline with my client based on their needs. And deadlines are very motivating to me. Deadlines are good. Instead of fearing the impending approach of D-day, I dive in to make sure I finish ahead of schedule if possible. I’m quite disciplined in assessing the workload and pacing the work tasks so as to make steady, timely progress.

But who’s driving this deadline? Uh, that would be me. Who’s paying for this project? I guess that would be me, too. Who has a vested interest in seeing it through in timely fashion? Me again.

But wait. I started this book project because I strongly believe it’s what I’m supposed to be doing right now. I know I have it in me and I’ve been given this “time off” to tell my story, now. So “Spirit, would you please send me an e-mail detailing your required scope of work, project plan, and deadline? And please outline any interim deliverables, too. Thanks! P”

Ah well, as with any technical writing project, sooner or later you just have to get on with it. I have a friend who used to tell me, “Do something, Paula. Just do something, even if it’s wrong.” She didn’t mean “wrong” in the legal or moral sense. I think it was her way of saying, “Take that first step of faith, even if you’re unsure whether it’s the ‘correct’ step to take. Just make a move!”

I’ve taken that philosophy to heart on many occasions just like this, when I’m “between opportunities” and find it hard to press on. I’ve even espoused it to others over the years. So to take my own advice, I’m just doing something—taking notes, researching the past, writing down ideas—until it all settles into a clear (if not “critical”) path. Oh, and I’m writing on this blog. “See, Mom, I am writing.”

Thus, the elusive answer is after all not grand, it’s “Grind”. Not wow!, but “Work, Paula”. I just wish the divine project sponsor would reveal that motivational deadline. Or perhaps it’s none of my business.

    • Techquestioner
    • February 14th, 2011

    I understand what you’re feeling. I’ve had it in many projects over the years, going all the way back to HS and college term papers. I’ve done the research, taken notes, reviewed everything I could get my hands on, made outlines and torn them up. No matter how I looked at the information I collected, nothing would fit together in any structure I could see. Eventually though, after going through it several times, there’d be a spark of inspiration, and I’d eventually see the structure, as if while I was consciously frustrated and looking for diversions, my unconscious kept working at it until it found an approach that made sense. Once I could see an implicit structure, I could find a way to tie in all the loose pieces that wouldn’t fit before, or know what to leave out as unnecessary.

    So hang in there. Keep collecting and shuffling your pieces until your story line comes into focus for you, then the rest of the work will flow. And you’ll wonder why it took you so long to see it in the first place.

      • Paula Robertson
      • February 15th, 2011

      That’s exactly it, Tech. And it often works that way in other aspects of life. Thanks for your encouragement.

    • Cora
    • February 13th, 2011

    I think we’re all listening for that divine deadline. Somewhere it will be revealed – keep listening!

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