Wearing the Iron Pants, Sticking to the Schedule, and Staying in the Chair

I don’t know if the muse is going to show up on any given day, but by golly, I’m going to be at my desk every day from 8 to 12 every morning in case she does.

Flannery O’Conner

Yep. Hard as it is to swallow, the only way I’m going to get any writing done is to sit in my chair and do it.

I suppose I could dictate notes into my phone while on my walk, but then those notes would have to be transcribed and edited, so in the end where would I be? In my chair. Some writers call this the “iron pants” rule: that you can’t get out of your chair because your pants are made of iron. (I guess the idea is that they’re so heavy you can’t move.) Staying in my chair won’t help me, though, if I constantly check my e-mail or make a tour of my usual must-read political websites. Honestly! Don’t good intentions could for anything?

I keep saying that I’m going to work on big writing projects for at least two hours a day, from 1:00-3:00, but usually that doesn’t happen. If I actually worked consistently for just 10 hours a week on the current BWP’s there would be some real progress. Here it is, a little after 11:00 AM, so two hours from now I need to be back in this very chair, working on my Carmina Burana commentary that I hope to sell to choral groups. Two hours isn’t all that long.

My brother and sister-in-law were over for our Labor Day cookout on Monday, the first time they’ve been here since we moved in. Mostly because of Jim’s efforts the place looked really nice—not completely finished, but nice. Dan & Joyce had made herculean efforts to help us move, so it was really nice for them to see that we’re making real progress toward having a beautiful, orderly place to live.. I don’t know what we would have done if they hadn’t shown up the Saturday and Sunday before closing day. We were sitting around talking after dinner and Dan asked, “So, what’s your schedule look like on a normal day?” Well, I was a bit taken aback. Let’s see—what is my schedule? I gave him some sort of half-baked answer, and it’s certainly true that my life has been pretty up in the air since May 22, but it’s still the case that I’ve failed to set in place any kind of substantial framework for my days.

To add insult to injury, when I took a look at Laura Vanderkam’s blog a few days ago I followed one of the external links she listed for something along the lines of “5 things productive people do that the rest of us don’t.” I can’t find the link now, and in the spirit of not wasting time by web-surfing I’m just going to let it go. But—one of the ideas was “they have set routines for everyday tasks and do things in the same order every time.” One example was that they might always brush their teeth before taking a shower. Doesn’t that sound supremely trivial? But that’s just the point: for trivial, routine tasks, just do it the same way every time. Then you don’t have to think about it.

Well, I just got up and put some chicken out to thaw for dinner and consulted briefly with my husband about some website redesign issues. I’m wrapping up this post. (How very meta.) On to lunch and housework. But 1:00 is coming. I’d better go find a pair of iron pants.

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