Wild Horses

This is the hardest lesson I have ever had to learn: trust that working in brief, daily sessions will mean more pages written, more manuscripts accepted and published, than working in great binges, hours and hours at a time, ever could.  It is like trying to drive a chariot, keeping control of the horses, who all the time want nothing more than to be given their heads to run and run and run until they drop with exhaustion and die.*

Let's name the horses: Impatience.  Intolerance.  Perfectionism.  Pride.  
  • Impatience wants everything to be done now; she is fixated on closure.  She hates taking the time to settle into a project, wants to see the book on the shelf before she has even started writing.  She is convinced that she needs to work as fast as possible just to keep up with everyone else, but of course what she really wants is to be ahead and finished, not running in the race at all.  
  • Intolerance hates feeling unsure of herself.  She gets anxious when she doesn't have all of the answers right now.  She hates having to take the time to learn new skills, particularly when it makes her feel awkward.  She wants everything to feel effortless, like flying in a dream.  
  • Perfectionism is convinced that everything that she does must be perfect.  If it isn't perfect, she might as well not do it at all.  She prides herself on making projects as difficult as possible, taking every possible question and answer to a problem into account.  Nothing short of exhaustion will satisfy her, otherwise how will she know that she has done (or at least attempted) her best?  
  • Pride is the dominant horse, driving the other three.  She, too, is convinced that everything that she does must be perfect; she is astonished at how sloppily other people seem to be able to work.  But she is mortified by the idea that she and her sisters might be falling behind, so she, too, encourages them to rush by reminding them how embarrassed they will be if others finish their projects first.  
How on earth am I ever going to get these four horses under control?  How do I know that it just isn't Laziness telling me that it is okay to take a break, I've done enough work for the day?  How can I trust that I will actually get this book manuscript finished if I only work on it (as per Prof. Boice's recommendation) at a maximum for three or four hours a day?  Will spending as much time prewriting as writing really make things move more quickly?  Or will I just dither the next year away, pretending to write?

On the other hand, wouldn't it be wonderful to ride into town sedately, with all four horses under proper control?  Particularly when the alternative is to end up lying in a ditch surrounded by wreckage with no more hope of getting into town at all.  Impulse control it is.  Even if it kills me.

Or not.

*Now where have I heard this metaphor before?  I'm guessing Plato, but it could be Alan of Lille

Comments

  1. All profoundly true and profoundly familiar. Thank you for having the honesty to say this: it is truly helpful (even to an unbaptised Brit who believes the state has a duty to provide free health care to all.)
    DMG

    ReplyDelete
  2. Gotta get these horses under control before anything else! Good luck with your team!

    ReplyDelete

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