Here we go, folks. I am sermonising again. Yet another occasion whereby I derive another tenuous conclusion from an extremely vague experience. Do calm down: I know how exciting this is, but it’s only Tuesday. Long time to go before the weekend yet.
That Was A Terrible Introduction Tara, It’s Time To Start The Post Properly Now Please
Anyhoo, yesterday evening I was sitting in rush hour Dublin traffic at its finest, on my way to a meeting, on my way from another meeting. Neither of these were ‘blogger’ meetings, so I’m afraid I can’t glamourise them by putting in words like brand or exposure or partnership or enhancement or deal or OMG totes amazetastic. I mean, it’s not as if that’s even interesting, especially when it comes to bloggers.
No: these were real-life meetings, about real-life work. As boring as they sound, but necessary, nonetheless. Is there anything like the limbo between two functional meetings about entirely different things? I think not. Maybe the limbo between a party and a hangover, but that’s a whole other post.
So there I was, inching forward, foot by foot, coasting on the clutch like a teenager who’s about to fail their driving test, mulling over something which was discussed in my first meeting: namely productivity, or a lack thereof.
I was worried that too much arsing around in Blogland and SocialMediaVille had rendered me with the attention span of an over-medicated goldfish (see here, and here). How did one become productive again, I thought? Are there exercises you can do? What would they be like?
Think a thought! Hold it! Think an entirely related thought! Do 100 reps! Now wipe the sweat from your brow!
Oh Look! It’s Setting Up The Premise Time
It occurred to me that sitting in traffic is a very mindful experience: one which might actually be conducive to productivity.
You have to drive, so you’re forced to be exactly where you are, and only there.
Sure, you could take out your phone and respond at length to emails and text messages, but that’s both illegal and stupid. You could listen to music, or the radio, or sing, but in heavy traffic, that too can be perilous. It seems best to sit there and take in the leaves on the trees (presuming Ireland’s own hurricane Ophelia left any behind her last week), and the taillights of the car in front of you, and the sound of the engine grunting and shunting and generally complaining about not doing 120km an hour like it was supposed to.
And you’re forced to think. You might even come up with ideas for blog posts and books and specialist non-automatic stop-start transmission while you’re there, waiting to get where you’re going.Embed from Getty Images
Then the traffic started moving again, albeit still at glacial pace. I perked up a bit, and moved my foot away from the brake. I was finally getting somewhere. My lane was moving; the one on my right wasn’t. I let one car in from a feeder lane; the driver raised a hand in thanks, and I felt smug and self-righteous. Another car forced its way in behind it without so much as an elbow, and I uttered a rude word. Shortly afterwards, my lane stopped moving. The one on my right sped up.
Time To Slap A Thematic Slant On It Time
This, I thought, is a lot like the business of writing. Isn’t it?
You’re content for a time, crawling along in the general direction of the end goal – be that developing a concept, finishing a draft, or publishing. It’s generally positive. You seem to be going the right way, at least, even if it’s going in stops and starts. It almost feels peaceful, in a sense.
Then you inevitably begin to notice some other aspects of the journey, such as exactly how many other cars are going the same way as you, some of which are noticeably faster. Some edge out in front of you. Some speed illegally down the bus lane and get away with it. Some of the drivers let you in. Others steal your spot in the queue. And there’s an abiding tendency to believe that you’re in the wrong lane, no matter what lane you’re in. Just as soon as you change lanes, the one you left goes faster. You feel like you can never win.
Dreadfully Shaky Conclusion Time
But one thing is for certain. You MUST stay on the road. If you stop for any other reason than to prevent injury, or you decide to exit down a slipway, or change direction, or turn around entirely and go back to where you came from, you will never get there. There will be other people on the same road, who do some of those things. But if you just keep writing, keep going, keep your foot on the accelerator to at least some degree, you’ll get there in the end. That’s what I thought.
And then I thought, Christ, I’m hungry. The tummy rumbles started. The analogising stopped. And I eventually got to my destination, whereupon I found the coffee station was closed. I made an executive decision not to extract any meaning from that. Which was extremely productive of me, if you think about it.