Friday, February 04, 2011

My Space

There are n number of self-help books in the shops and most of them say pretty much the same thing.

Whether it's Napoleon Hill's 'Think and Grow Rich' or the more in-your-face 'The Secret', all authors make one simple point: your thoughts create your reality.

The first time you read such a book you either go "what rubbish" and never pick another one up. Or, you say "Wow - could this be true?" and then you want to go out and read more, learn more about how to achieve this miracle.

But after some time it's the same stuff, over and over.

You're better off just re-reading the books you have and practising how to *think* correctly and visualise your perfect reality (so you can manifest it!), than buying more such books.

Still, I do peek in at what's new in this market and yesterday happened to flip through Jack Canfield's 'Success Principles' at the local Crossword. It was like yada, yada, yada, but then I came across something completely new and so wonderfully useful.

Especially for a writer like me.

You know, one of the issues I have with myself is I am not as productive as I could be. I know I have the capability to write 3 books a year (but am actually doing only one!).

"I need more discipline" - I say to myself.

One morning I googled up 'how other writers do it'. Here's what I found:

1) Jeffrey Archer:

His writing routine starts at 6 am in the morning which continues for two hours. Jeffrey Archer takes a break for next two hours and then he writes for two hours more and the routine continues till the night. He believes writing is a very serious job and is definitely not easy.

Hmm. Maine aaj tak aise nahin kiya. Na main kar sakti hoon - who will send my daughter to school??

2) Nicholas Taleb:

My principal activity is daydreaming, so I may write mostly in my head. I have no routine, no work ethics. For years I had an upper limit of 50 minutes a day of actual writing so I would keep enjoying it. If I am bored, I stop right away, or I try to change the subject. You can easily fool yourself, not the reader: if you don't enjoy what you are writing about, the reader will somehow figure it out. So I may go for a long time without writing anything except a check.

Also, I need an aesthetic environment. I write in my 'literary library', the one that does not have technical books and technical papers - it is like a sacred space. I also like to write in cafes, away from business people. Writing is sacred, other activities are profane, and I don't want them to corrupt my writing.

Sounds more like me, or what I would *like* to say in a similar interview. Currently much of my writing is done on a study table with a teddy bear headboard, or my kitchen table. Interrupted by dhobis and pressure cooker whistles!

3) Agatha Christie:

Agatha didn't sit at a pristine desk neatly typing her novels, Chapter 1 followed by Chapter 2, and so on, before donning gloves and descending at 6 p.m. for a sherry...

Her less-than-refined writerly day began with finding her notebook, which surely she'd left right there. Then, having found a notebook (not the one she'd used yesterday), and staring in stunned amazement at the illegible chicken scratchings therein, she would finally settle down to jab at elusive characters and oil creaky plots.

Most astonishing, Curran discovers that for all her assured skewering of human character in a finished novel, sometimes when Christie started her books, even she didn't know who the murderer was. Ah! It makes sense—a brilliant mystery writer must first experience the mystery! Or does it?

Wow. This is most inspiring. And although *she* is a godess to me, and wrote fiction, I can completely relate to this 'not knowing' bit.

The truth is, I started writing this blog with one thing in mind and it's gone quite another way. It's like I am downloading thoughts and ideas from something or somewhere 'larger than myself'.

Merely an instrument who is typing on this keyboard, guided by a Higher Power. Who needs a space to enable 'transmission' to come through.

And that's where I come back to the original subject of this blog - Jack Canfield's 'Success Principles'. The idea I found so compelling was this:

Divide your time into three kinds of days - Best Results Days, Preparations Days, and Rest & Recreations Days.

'Best Result' Days are when you spend 80% of your time doing the work that you really love (and which gets results for you). It's what we know as the 80: 20 principle:

20% of our work is producing 80% of our results. If you can determine *what* that is, you can find some things you can cut out both in your professional and home life

In my case *that* is writing. Could be selling for a salesman, coding for a crack programmer or whatever.

To get a 'Best Result Day' therefore you choose to eliminate everything else. No answering emails, no tweeting, no doorbells, no television, no social obligations.

Now I have *experienced* this in the past - the odd wonderful day when I am really focussed and in flow and pleased with the amount and quality of writing I have done. But it's been more by accident than intention.

The idea that this can be done consciously - and as a matter of routine - is very empowering.

I have therefore decided to make every Wednesday my *Best Results Day*. The fun part of following such a routine is you don't feel *guilt* about not waking up at 6 am like Jeffrey Archer and banging away.

I think even he should try a new routine... coz his recent writing certainly can't be called 'best result' (gustaakhi maaf, I remain a loyalist and fan who bought his last book).

On other days I have Agatha Christie's messy and mad example to follow. Except with a different kind of 'notebook' :)

Will let you know how my little experiment doing - after 4 weeks! If any of you decide to try this out - or do it already - please do share your experience.

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