If you were to read through even a single volume of my library of personal notebooks, you would discover quite quickly one of my simple quirks: I date everything I get my hands on.
(I can admit that openly because my wife never reads this blog.)
Before you tweet her, call her or post this on her Facebook page, allow me a clarification. When I write a note, the first thing I do in almost every case is jot the date at the top of the page. There are two grand reasons for this
- This immediately breaks the psychological barrier of staring at “The Empty Page”.
- This allows me to remember when I wrote it.
In all honesty, the first point doesn’t actually work (ever retraced something a zillion times while you search for the next word?), but lists look better with more than one item.
While updating my life plan tonight, I rediscovered a plan I’d developed for a particular long form writing project … exactly one year ago tonight. The plan was ambitious, but not unattainable. In fact, I distinctly remember adding “buffer time” after already setting out a reasonable timeline.
I was proud of the plan. It was practical, covered every aspect of the project without getting bogged down in details, and provided ample time to ward off all the inevitable obstacles. Yet the projected deadline passed several months ago, and I haven’t written one page.
Spirit-crushing failure notwithstanding, this incident holds the promise of actually propelling me forward. Why? Dating, that’s why.
Dating forces us to remember that, ultimately, commitment counts. Your dates will always remind you of your promises. And how long they’ve been waiting for you to keep them.
(This big fail is not a total surprise, considering I had several smaller projects percolating, as well. Since that time, I did manage to complete five other writing projects and am closing in on a sixth. Like it or lump it, the story of my writing life has been about enjoying or pursuing too many options at once.
Apparently, I’m just not ready to commit.)
The irony in this is that during those months of rampant neglect, I developed a sharper commitment to the writing process on the whole. Though spurning that one story, I discarded–okay, challenged–the bad habit of tackling multiple projects simultaneously and resisted the urge to chase the shiny before completing the current.
At least part of that success I owe to the practice of dating. Each date I write warns me to keep my pursuit alive, lest I lose:
- my momentum,
- my passion, or
- “her” trust that I will keep my promise, symbolized by those simple numbers at the top of the very first page.
So despite the ugly reminders that I’m not always Mr. Reliable, I will press on. I’ll keep on dating. In fact, I’d say I’m committed.