I love salads. More specifically, I love spinach and kale, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchinis, and brightly colored bell peppers. I used to make my salads one at a time; that is, I’d slice just enough vegetables for a single salad. I’ve since changed that method, both for the sake of efficiency and having several projects requiring attention.
I now slice all the vegetables I’ll need for my salads for the upcoming week or so. It takes ten to fifteen minutes, and provides me with enough vegetables for a number of salads and a few servings of vegetables and hummus. If I don’t take that time, the vegetables sometimes are, to my dismay, left to fuzz and mush in the refrigerator.
The writing life is somewhat similar. I can sit down to jot a few words here or there. I might have some successes, but I’m more than likely to find the words I thought wonderful a few days ago have rotted away in the storehouse. My only remedy is to file the words and ideas with some semblance of organization and to address them before they turn to sludge, and the only way to do that is to prepare accordingly – to arrange the ingredients and set aside time and space to work with them.
I don’t typically give myself a time limit when it comes to that work, but, on the days I know will be busier than others, I develop a plan for the work I intend to do. It doesn’t matter if the work has to occur within thirty minutes or be done at a non-peak productivity time; I still make a plan for it. I have a specific idea with which to work. I have a draft that needs to be finished, or I have a piece that needs to be edited before I schedule it. I know the ingredients with which I am to work because I prepared them a day or two in advance. Knowing that makes it easier to come to the writing. The ingredients are still fresh, and they’re ready to be used.
Image: Max Mallet (Creative Commons)