Taking the TIME to Write Well

We sat together at one summer’s end,
That beautiful mild woman, your close friend,
And you and I, and talked of poetry.
I said, ‘A line will take us hours maybe;
Yet if it does not seem a moment’s thought,
Our stitching and unstitching has been naught.
Better go down upon your marrow-bones
And scrub a kitchen pavement, or break stones
Like an old pauper, in all kinds of weather;
For to articulate sweet sounds together
Is to work harder than all these, and yet
Be thought an idler by the noisy set
Of bankers, schoolmasters, and clergymen
The martyrs call the world.’
— from Adam's Curse by William Butler Yeats

I love having a blog. I've written many things and enjoy the process of writing. I enjoy being on the hook for creating content. I love engaging with people who read my work. This past week, I have been sitting with my (sometimes manic) drive to do and seeing how this can keep me from doing my best work. 

Like Hamilton, I want to write like I'm running out of time. After all, the word is always penultimate; more will always need to be considered and said. Yet, 

I also want to write like I have more than enough time. 

After grading a bunch of sloppy essays, Jack Levison, the professor for my Book of Acts class in college (and a great writer) gave a whole lecture about the craft of writing. Quoting "Adam's Curse" by William Butler Yeats, he read aloud, "A line could take us hours maybe..."  and thus proceeded to drive home his point. We weren't writing well. We were frantically stitching together words on a page. Sometimes I can feel that not much has changed. 

At worst, I wake up early in the morning and do injustice to my own morning routine by pulling out my laptop and hastily creating a blog before running off to work to have many segmented interactions with people and not stopping to think before I crash late in the evening. I rush to hit "POST" because I see the hectic day ahead of me and do not see the time to take, the time to waste, the time to enjoy. Clearly, I have some scarcity stories around time. 

In college, I would procrastinate: I would allow thoughts to congeal in my head until I absolutely HAD to start writing and would write many a one-shot essay and turn it in and do fairly well. So while I was frustrated initially with Jack Levison's prophetic and poetic critique, I was thankful as well for the reminder--then and now. 

My drive and hustle have increased, and I believe this is for the better. I have taken on possibilities to create that will not invent themselves whilst I sit idly by. However, drive and hustle can be godforsaken idols, too, robbing joy from the moment as the tyranny of the urgent takes over. My "do-do" reflex may help me get shit done (pun intended), but that's also the problem; the world doesn't need any more shit. 

By nature of having a blog, a website, social media accounts, etc., I could spew words incessantly, but it wouldn't be enough. I want to express myself, my soul, my message. I desire to inspire. And I live not only to say words, but to speak truthfully and to speak well. 

I think my manic hustle can stem from my thinking of writing as "sitting idly by," instead of my LIFE-WORK, my CRAFT. 

There is a joy in getting things done efficiently, yet I also find our slow work is drastically underappreciated. 

Some lines may take hours, others won't. In part this is because great writing first involves great thinking. I'm going to invest my quality T.I.M.E. in writing well, totally immersed in the process and letting the GO-DO voices take a momentary backseat. I'm quietly excited about this, and I hope you are too.