I have lots of ideas. There is never a span of time where I don’t have forty-five things I could choose to do right that moment. At least a handful of them at any one time are projects that I feel are important and need to be done as soon as possible.
Being creative and having lots of exciting things to work on is not a bad thing. But it does lead me to feel discouraged from time to time. Because I try to say yes to it all, I often don’t finish one thing for a very long time.
Take the Untangled book for example.* Molly, the illustrator, and I started that book in 2015. It took three years from start to publication for a book that is 40 pages long. And it wasn’t because we were waiting on the illustrations. I continued to focus on other projects at the same time. An hour on this one, an hour on that one.
I’ve read several books about focusing on one thing at a time. These are business books, but they make good sense. Then I read a blog post by Jessica Abel called Pick one goal. She articulated quite accurately this thing that I get myself into all the time. Jessica is talking about the tendency we have to work on a lot of projects a little at a time. And that means that those projects mostly don’t get done, at least not efficiently. She is saying that choosing one and working on it with focus is more productive and I think, more rewarding. Jessica says, “Choose one thing and go all in.” I’m willing to give it a try.
The day before I read this article, I was corresponding with another weaving teacher and writer about an article she was working on. Liz Gipson (aka the Yarnworker) has written several books herself and knows that I have struggled to write my current manuscript which will be my first full-length book. Her advice was this:
It should be noted that this is not the first time she has given me this advice!**
I sat in my studio and thought about this for awhile. I thought about the long list of things I want to do in 2019 including several very large projects besides this book. And I realized that the best thing I can do for myself is to take Liz’s advice to heart. The manuscript is due in the spring and if I sit down and work on it for much of every day, I can meet that deadline.
The one thing I am picking for the next four months is writing this tapestry techniques book. I’m saying that to all of you as a way to hold myself accountable and to let you know that I won’t be working on those new online classes quite yet. Give me a few more months to finish this contracted obligation. The resulting book will be worth it and you will be able to read it sometime in 2020. Then my focus will land squarely on new teaching material… which will be my One Thing the second half of the year.
I agree with Jessica Abel that doing a little bit on this and a little bit on that all the time is a good way to get nothing done.
I’m writing this in mid-December, mired in stress about all the holiday projects I took on and wishing desperately for a little time to go for a hike and do some weaving. I’m going to post it for you in early January as my pact with myself to write this book first. Then once it is done, watch out world! The next One Thing is going to be so much fun!***
Stay tuned for my one other contract with myself in a post tomorrow…
The two business books I referred to above are:
The One Thing: The surprisingly simple truth behind extraordinary results by Gary Keller
Essentialism: The disciplined pursuit of less by Greg McKeown
*And to further add to the Untangled discouragement, after amazing demand for the book, there were incredibly difficult printer issues which ultimately resulted in me pulling the book from production and looking for another printer.
**Liz’s newest book, A Weaver’s Guide to Yarn, is available for pre-order HERE. She thinks it will ship by January 31, 2019.
***So far things are going well! I’ve done the writing every day and it is fun to dive into this new way of teaching. It is going to be a great book!