Invisible Practice

I’m feeling a lot more positive about life than I have been for a while.  I’ve even tinkered with a poem.  But mostly I’ve been doing all those other things I find myself engaged in whenever I’m gearing-up to a longer period of writing work.  You know… sorting out my files and piles of paper, tidying the desk, tidying the room, pacing the room, pacing the house, watching the latest Squirrel-v.-Wood Pigeon grudge match in the garden…

In her wonderful book One Continuous Mistake: Four Noble Truths for Writers (1999, Penguin), Gail Sher has this to say:

Invisible practice refers to tasks that come to your attention primarily when you have neglected them – brushing your teeth, emptying the garbage, straightening your desk. … Invisible practice.  It helps to have a dignified name for what we might easily label ungratifying time-wasters.

So that’s what’s been going on, these last few weeks!  Invisible practice.  I mean, I’m glad that my tax return’s been completed, a load of washing’s been done, but I was starting to get worried.   There’d been a lot of haranguing going on in my head (You’re shit.  You’re a lazy cow. You’re so up yourself.  Who do you think you are etc etc) and not much work on the poems.

So, today, when I’m scared that I won’t finish this manuscript, that I’ll never write another new poem again in my life, I tell myself it’s all right, I’ve been doing my Invisible Practice.  And now, maybe, if I edge up to them very slowly, the poems will let me work on them.  I mean, I’ll let me work on them.


2 thoughts on “Invisible Practice

  1. Meryl, furtive & invisible is right – I’ve only just this minute discovered you had this blog! Hmm.

    I’ll tell you a story. Once I was feeling exactly the way this post describes. I was grimly sending out, sending out, getting rejected, rejected, I was like, what is the point of LIFE, and one day I couldn’t stand it and I called Donaghy and said Michael, Michael, whaddamIgonnaDOOOO, there’s no point, maybe I should give up, it’s all shit anyway, who wants to read my maundering, etc and he just laughed – very kindly though, amusedly – and said, “Ahh, you’re having one of THOSE…”

    As he made me feel instantly better, I’d now like to pass that on to you! Just call it ONE OF THOSE and put it in its place. (I still get them.)

    & now I’m going to go read your archives. Hope to see you soon xx

    1. Ms. Baroque, thank you so much for your visit! And your great story – I love it, ONE OF THOSE. If the late great MD had had them, and you, then there’s hope for me yet. Mxx

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