I’m guilty of saying similar things myself about a couple of my own pet projects yet to realize fruition. For me, it’s not always the number of paying projects I’m working on that stalls me, but the intensity and timeline of each project. For example, I’m currently working on 11 paid projects, which is down considerably from last month’s count, but the intensity is high and I’m working 7 days a week to maintain. Other months I have just one or two projects that require most of my time.
Last week, when I was interviewing bestselling true-crime author, Ann Rule, she inspired me to realize that—as much as I have to be organized—I often get in my own way.
For one, I like clean, clear and open space to work in, no clutter in sight. And most days I work in nothing less.
Yet, as I write this, at the end of a crazy week where I’ve juggled all day and everyday—as we all do—my desk is overflowing with books to review, publicity material to scan, a phone log with 13 calls to return, marketing collateral for my show, a network folder full of regional events I ‘should’ attend; guest material to research; and a folder full of resumes to sift through so that I have another pair of hands before I tear out what little hair I have left.
There’s a desktop LCD, two live-laptops ready to receive urgent client messages from different sources; a banker’s lamp on the far left corner and an artist’s magnifying light on the right. A bottle of coral nail polish, a vase of past-their-best roses, my old classic-sized DayTimer and my new full-size Covey planner. Then there’s a digital clock, salt rock to dispel negative electrons, three wireless mice, a wireless keyboard, and oops, another bottle of nail polish—this time pink. (Now you know what I do on global conference calls!)
There are two DVD roughs to sign-off on, as well as a list of production credits to proof and approve. Two staplers (don’t you hate when they run out and you’re in a hurry?) and a block of Post-it notes. A “No Whining” sign sits behind a framed plaque saying, “You can be pleased with nothing when you are not pleased with yourself”. (Must remind self of both sayings!) A cell phone, business phone, and an assortment of colored pens so I can color-code my new planner. (…anal?) And no less than two cups of cold coffee and a glass full of Perrier water.
“This is ‘My Life’” … oh no, wait, that’s the Cover Girl commercial.
Back to Ann Rule.
She was a cop turned writer. A single mom who had to find a way to make money when she could no longer be a cop because of eyesight limitations. And she found that way by setting up a typewriter in her kitchen and writing fantasy stories for True Confessions magazine, in and amongst the chaos of raising five children.
“We were so poor, for so long” she said, “but it teaches you, you can write through anything if you’re determined.”
She tells people who talk of seeking perfect conditions, like that cabin in the woods where everything is quiet (or the super clean desk), “It doesn’t work that way. If you want to write [act, paint, dance] you will find a way.”
And despite the huge disappointment of losing her career as a police officer, and her recollections of peeling fighting children off the top of her typewriter, Ann has now made the New York Times bestsellers’ list 26 times.
So, while I take a few minutes to clean and de-clutter my desk, tell me, what perfect conditions are you waiting for?