Monday, November 17, 2008

What a San Joaquin Farm Woman Can Teach Writers

Her name's Mattie, and every morning she gets up and picks all kinds of fruits that grow on her farm. When neighbors ask her how she's doing, her response is anything but typical.

"Five boxes," she'll say. Or, "Twenty-five."

Because how she feels - and how her business is doing - is the direct result of how many boxes of fruit she was able to pick that day.

When I read about Mattie in an old Byline article, I realized I'd been feeling, well, like around two pages. Maybe even one. Because that's about all I've had time to write lately.

Okay, let me rephrase that. It's all the time I've made to write lately. Because somehow I've managed to visit friends, go shopping, and, er, watch Oprah. But honestly, there are legitimate things that keep most of us busy for the better part of our days.

Mattie knows about that, too. She has a family and farm to take care of, along with those daily chores that never go away. That's why she starts with the thing that feels the least urgent but has such a big affect on her success: the boxes. Once those are out of the way, she can go about the rest of her day feeling like (cue triumphant music) Twenty-Five Boxes.

It sounds simple enough. And the idea of starting your day by writing certainly isn't a new one. But waking up every day, going right to my laptop and writing - instead of to the gym or my inbox - takes conscious effort. I think it's worth getting used to. Today I want to feel like 5 pages, and squeezing this writing in around everything else (or after everything else) won't do it.

I'm already feeling 1/4 page better.


ccpl said...

Brilliant! My blof post today was about numbers too ;)

ACW said...

I absolutely loved this article! I actually plan to share with my process class.