Forty Hours

Part of my response to Henry Cloud’s book Integrity: The Courage to Meet the Demands of Reality has been to look my work habits square in the eye.  I am now keeping a log of what I actually do with my time from day to day.  It’s been eye-opening, to say the least.  From reading to surfing the internet to taking a break for coffee or to respond to some need Amy or Daniel has to simply staring into space fighting off a temptation to drift off into a brooding funk, time slips away far too easily.  Time when words could be inching on to the page, which, in the end, is the work I’m about these days.

So this week, the goal is simple.  To spend 40 hours actually writing.  To work my work the way everyone works their work.  To show up and hammer away at what’s in front of me, no excuses.  Of course, there’s part of me that is yet again embarrassed to be putting this out in the world for perusal because it begs the question: “if you haven’t been writing 40 hours, what in the world have you been doing?”

Writing, sure.  But not really pushing up against the inner barriers that keep me from making the next leap.  I’ve been working project to project, and when the work is done for that day, I let it be done.  But somehow, I can sense in my bones that there’s a laziness in that, that to move on into the next hour and the next hour, though I may be dry and have nothing of inspiration pouring out of me, is to prepare for the arrival of words and sentences and stories that will only come out through deep digging, the hard labor of going on today.

So yesterday, I wrote for 8 hours.  I started at 8:30 a.m. and didn’t finish until 8:15 p.m., due to the normal interruptions of the day.  And by the way, blogging doesn’t count. Preparing for our next Arts Ministry Meeting doesn’t count.  Lots of things that I used to think of as “work” don’t count, at least not in this particular experiment.

What am I working on?  Two things: the screenplay for Leaving Ruin, and an original folk musical for Christmas at the Northwest Church.    The focus of the past week has really been fun, and I’m growing increasingly fond of and excited about both projects.  We’ll see what the 8 hours brings today.

Got to get to work…

2 Comments

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  1. I think I might want to discuss this with you. Of course, I haven’t read the book but I have some questions about this decision.

  2. I struggle all the time with finding the time to write. Recently, I’ve taken to scribbling in a notebook filled with lined paper. It’s portable, powerless, and free from internet distractions and email checking. There’s nothing like longhand to force you to focus on the words and other mush spinning around in your head that’s just begging to come out. I love your notion of deep digging for the inspiration that lies buried. I’ve started and rebooted a novel I’m working on several times, never really happy with what I’ve done. I’ve written a ton, but all of it (I’ve come to understand) was back story, and not the actual book I had in my head. Of course, all that detail can only enrich what I’m now beginning again. Blessings on your new focus.

    I still think about the January short course I took from you at ACU from time to time. Keep up that good work for sure!

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