Why doing more by doing less is the best lesson I’ve ever (re)learnt

Yesterday was my three-week anniversary at the Guild. It’s been a blast.

I also likely haven’t been this emotionally exhausted since… well, let’s just say I’ve probably blocked out that time period.

Writing is hard. Every writer knows this – and if you know a writer who says it isn’t, they’re lying through their teeth. Writing about yourself, though (or, at least, about a topic that makes up a large chunk of your identity), is even harder.

I expect a lot of myself. I know this; it’s a curse that I’ve been born with, and for all intents and purposes I’ve learned to live with. It’s what has got me through my Masters so far, so it can be a benefit. But it can also act as a virtual paper shredder; for every word I write, at least twenty more words have been turned over in my brain and evaluated for their usefulness. It means that writing, for me anyway, is more an exercise in literal and mental editing than in actual writing; it means that I often erase more words than I am left with in the end. It means my process often consists of writing a sentence once, taking a word out, coming back twenty minutes later to write the same word in again, only to take it out the next day, to ad infinitum, five days a week.

Which is exhausting. Especially when you’re a perfectionist, which I happen to be, so I’m never perfectly satisfied with the end product.



MWG hosted a meet-and-greet event for me last week which involved a lovely mixture of cakettes, punch, and intelligent chatter that one can often only have when in a room full of like-minded – and often semi-introverted – fellow artists and writers (and really, what more can a girl ask for). I was asked a lot of questions regarding how the residency was going, and I answered honestly, for the most part.

In the afternoon, a Guild board member quickly popped in to get in on the proceedings (she was especially fond of the punch) and I related to her the rote of things I’m planning to accomplish during my residency. After I finished she answered, “That sounds like a lot,” complete with a knowing smile.

I’m not much of a touchy-feely person (I had only met this person once before), but I was compelled to hug her at that moment. I didn’t, but I should’ve.

However, her words didn’t leave me for days. As a direct result and after a long weekend of finishing two books, season three of Breaking Bad, a half-season of Veronica Mars, and more sleep than I’ve had in months, I’ve had serious time to reconsider my productivity this summer.

I can’t do everything. Part of me has always known this. The stubborn part of me, though, usually chimes in at this point to tell me that I should, and I should do it especially because society doesn’t expect everything – and, at times, anything – from me.

This week, I’ve decided to let my better half win out. Next week might be – and probably will be, knowing my track record – a different story.

But, fortunately, I’m surrounded by people who will, quite likely, pop up out of the blue to make me reconsider.

And that next unsuspecting person might just get a hug out of me.

“Our sense of worthiness – that critical piece that gives us access to love and belonging – lives inside our story.” – Brene Brown


2 thoughts on “Why doing more by doing less is the best lesson I’ve ever (re)learnt

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