Many years ago my husband introduced me to the movie “The Gumball Rally” (1976) about an amateur coast-to-coast road race. In it, the Italian driver, Franco, (Raul Julia) says what for me was a memorable line as he ripped off the rear view mirror and tossed it away. “The first rule of Italian driving: what is behind me is not important.”
Ah, if only it were that easy. When I haven’t produced enough new words I’m very adept at looking behind and torturing myself with what I haven’t accomplished, even if I’ve been doing other kinds of productive work like editing and marketing. I found Rachel Aaron’s book 2000 to 10,000 (which she recently updated) both helpful and daunting. I’m still working on regularly producing the 2000 words a day, let alone 10,000. That’s why I found Rachel’s post “Don’t Stomp on My Cake” from 8/22/13 so reassuring. (Thanks to Caroline Mickelson for telling me about it.)
Even someone like Rachel, who is very organized and is productive has days, or weeks, or even months, when other things get in the way of creating. Sometimes those things can be avoided or ignored, but some of them you just have to endure, or in some cases, enjoy.
In The Gumball Rally, Franco is very clear on his priorities. Have fun. Win the race. In that order. He was frequently distracted by beautiful women along the way, but he still came in second and he got the girl. Several girls, actually. Lamenting time lost while making love to a lovely woman wasn’t even on his list. Obviously, a certain amount of reflection is necessary to learn from the past so we don’t repeat the same mistakes over and over, but what constitutes a mistake is not always so obvious. Not every side trip is a mistake. Not everything that takes us away from writing is to be lamented.
Lamenting the past steals energy from the present. Don’t give it that power. Relax. Take a a deep breath. Are those flowers you smell?
Now that you’re re-energized, get back to work. 🙂