writing projects 2024

Mindful Resistance: Doing Less Frequently

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Some days it’s going to feel like you’re getting nothing done. But… Sometimes, nothing is just what you should be working on. We can’t all be Energizer Bunnies all the time. Downtime is a thing I used to have to plan. Today, I make a lifestyle of it.

Getting Nothing Done

Certain things bug other people that don’t bug me. Dishes in the sink. Clothes wrinkling in the dryer. A book on the floor halfway down the hall, as if it were just resting on the way to the bookshelf. Bookshelves. I want more. I need more. For now, I’ll just stack them everywhere. Even as I make an effort to go digital. I love used books. New books too, but used often comes with additional benefits and occasional surprises. Marginalia of thought, todo lists, observations. It’s like we’re reading the book together.

Today, I did a lot. But I got very little done. A poem. A nap. A walk with the dogs. It’s Friday. It’s been a short but mighty week. The heat is arriving in Texas. The rains have caused my wilder-lawn to bloom. My yard guy comes by weekly asking for money. “I made my lawn like this on purpose,” I tell him. “I don’t want the grasses cut down.” Besides, the insects and birds like it.

Don’t be to hard on yourself when you have a doing-little day. Take the moment to give thanks. If you can take a nap, take one. What’s the harm? Read a book. Spend time searching for the perfect movie for you and your partner tonight.

A Pause To Refuel

Momentum in my creative projects is a part of the process for me. If I gain momentum, it comes from putting in the time on the specific project. I had a reset yesterday, courtesy of a friend, who asked me, “What’s the goal of this next book on AI?” I have a book that’s pretty much written but now would require significant time and resources to organize, market, and build a platform to promote it. “What do you want to be known for?”

I have been shooting at my creative goals with a shotgun. What I need now, passing the 60th-year mark, is laser focus and good health. If I keep up my end of the deal, I could easily see another 30 years of productivity. Why not? Eat well. Sleep enough. Exercise. And above all, write. Yes, and avoid accidents.

As I rested today I took note of my ease and lack of stress. I’m in a liminal state. At that moment before a great action. The rise and fall of the previous motions has been completed. I am in between. I have so much to tell you. Today, I will pause. Breathe. Catch my stride again, this time with a specific goal in mind.

Finding the Focus

In my friend’s question was the key to my next coordinated effort. “What do you want to be known for?”

I’d like to be a Steinbeck or a Henry Miller.

What I learned from this answer was this: my marketing and ai writing, does not move me toward my goal. The poetry and sci-fi are tangential. But writing the “great American novel” is my goal. It’s where I started back in college, getting an English degree. As I fished around for a story, I wrote draft one of The Dream Academy. A draft that will thankfully stay in the desk drawer. I wrote a musical, a screenplay, a few plays.

Then my divorce happened. I went from fat and happy to fat and homeless in a matter of months. My writing ignited. I started with an anonymous rant The Off Parent and found my voice. As I navigated the loneliness and an angry co-parent, I evolved and defined a new path for myself. The Whole Parent became my attempt to put the shitstorm of divorce into some positive light. What could I learn from the adverse actions of the mother of my children? How could I survive the attacks and respond with wisdom and stories rather than barbs and bombs?

As I move away from divorce writing, I am aware that the body of my books to date are poetry (8) and divorce/dating/relationship stuff (10). There are a few other topics, but not all that exciting for me moving forward. I am publishing one more book on my divorce, to complete what I’m calling The Divorce Orchestration. I hope to put a bow on the entire experience, good and bad, and move on to writing that feeds my soul. Writing that moves me toward my goal.

I want to be known for my writing. The writing I want to be best known for is the literate prose, stories, and novels of heroic efforts with a Homeric flourish. Stay tuned. And, thank you for listening.

Today, my pause was important. As I rested, I listened for what is resonating with me, in me. I have a fresh map for the months and years ahead. Writer.

Please check out most of my books on Amazon.

And here is my daily creative output page, that I’ll use to keep my work organized and observable to myself. By doing less today, I give myself energy and space for what’s next. I know where my intention is, what my focus will be. First, let me have a break. Read something. Nap.

Always Love,

John McElhenney – life coach austin texas
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