I know, a post on preparation sounds about as exciting as a lecture on, well, whatever is boring to you. (I say that because what is boring to you may not be boring to me. And any example I thought of could be interesting to someone else. And this topic actually, it occurs to me, deserves a whole post of its own.)
But here’s the deal: preparation isn’t boring, it is crucial. It gets your brain going in the direction you want, stirs the subconscious, makes you eager to get to the page.
I’ve had first-hand experience with what happens without preparation today. Yesterday I wrote a post about Morning Routines and how Michael Masterson has written a whole library of leather-bound books that he keeps in his beach-front mansion by devoting the first hour of the day to his most important goal.
I’m a big believer in this process, because I wrote a novel that way. And this morning I was ready to launch in again, to rise early and devote first an hour to my novel and then an hour to another project dear to my heart.
Yesterday, however, I spent hours at my desk, working on my latest assignment, which is a ghost-writing project I was trying wrap my brain around. And therein lay the problem–I succeeded so well in wrapping my brain around the ghost, my poor old mind was full up of thoughts and ideas about that.
I woke up this morning and rebelled. I checked email and read news stories and went over to Twitter and decided I really, absolutely had to follow Steve Jobs (who hasn’t been on Twitter in months, but oh well) and Paulo Coelho and Dave Lakhani. And then of course I had to update my own Twitter. Then I started getting excited about the internet and how cool it is to be in contact with so many people all over the world and by then any impetus to work on the novel was gone.
My mistake was that I did not prepare. I went to bed last night with my brain full of the ghost book and so of course when I woke up there was no way I was going to be ready to work on anything else. What I should have done was open the file I’ve been working on, read it, even if only very quickly, think about what I wanted to work on and maybe even make some notes.
Then my mind would have had a chance to percolate on the novel as I slept.
This experience also speaks to the power of intention. Clearly, if I had really intended to work on my novel this morning I would have at least thought about it before I went to bed. But, no. I was so busy being pleased with myself for all I had gotten done on the ghost that I drifted happily off to sleep with nary a thought for writing fiction.
Ah well. There’s always tomorrow.
PS. Two of three prizes have been claimed for the Pay it Forward Birthday Celebration. One last prize! Going fast! All you have to do to claim it is post a comment on that post, and either a coaching session or a manuscript critique is yours.