I’ll admit it: patience is something I struggle with. It’s odd, because most other people describe me as a very patient person. I think I am, but I also see patience as one of those old-fashioned hourglasses that’s had a stopper added in the center. Every time something happens that requires your patience, the stopper gets pulled, and a little bit of sand falls through to the bottom half.
But some days, it seems as though the stopper gets pulled a lot, and that patience runs through that tiny hole like there is a boulder on top of it. And then I’m pulling into my condo complex, completely infuriated with the folks who seem incapable of driving on the right side of the road or going around that roundabout or over that speed bump at a pace greater than a snail could. It’s not really their fault (well, they could be a bit more urgent about where they’re going and remember that we’re not in Europe, but I digress). It’s just that I’ve used up all the patience that I have for that day. Check with me tomorrow; it seems that the hourglass gets flipped sometime while I sleep.
Nowhere in my life does this apply more than my writing. Sometimes I just get so revved up about writing that my brain tells me little lies. Like, I’m so excited about this story right now that you could rent a cabin, take a long weekend, and we’ll have this thing finished in 72 hours.
Wrong. I can read a book that way. I can read a book in a day if it’s really good and I’m really excited about it. But it turns out that writing a book takes about eight trillion times longer. (That may not be an actual fact, but it sure feels that way.)
So now I’m almost halfway through this thing, and I’ve got a lot of great material that needs to be strung together, and, of course, more new scenes to let flow out of my fingertips and onto the keyboard. But my patience has been getting quite a workout lately, and while that may make it stronger in the long run, you know what it’s telling me right now?
I’m tired, trainer. My legs are jelly, my abs are on fire and I can’t breathe. And I get to say, “No, get back up. We’re only halfway through. I’m going to need your help a lot more!”
The other problem, I feel, is incremental enthusiasm. For some reason, it is sooo much harder to care about the 59,061st word than the 101st. Just like patience, I started this project out with so much. And gradually, day by day, it slipped more and more out of my reserve. I have a little bit of econ brain, so I mainly attribute this to the law of diminishing marginal utility. Basically, this law states that the more you consume of an item in a single instance, the less you enjoy it. The idea that the fourth piece of pizza doesn’t taste as good as the first. You don’t want it as badly. (Yes, I have a pit for a stomach.) So after I’ve written so many words, sometimes I feel like it’s more difficult to get excited about that next one.
Yet, I still love this project. When I think about the reasons I started this and what the possibilities are if I finish it, I’m still really excited about all those things. On top of that, I really do feel called to pursue writing. I think someday I may have something to say that really matters, and that this will be the right venue for it. But I still can’t seem to recapture the fire that I began the project with.
Any fire starters paying attention to this blog? I feel confident that I can get it back, but I’m still not quite sure how to make it happen. If/when I figure it out, I’ll keep you in the loop. Until then, if you’re struggling with keeping yourself inspired for a long-term project or in your daily life in general, just know you’re not alone.
I’m here too. Trying to find the best way to push forward.