Things happen when it’s time. The longer I live, the more strongly I believe that. I know this sounds like a cop-out to lots of people, and I don’t mean it in the sense that we shouldn’t set goals and target dates and all that good stuff. But sometimes life intervenes with the best-laid plans, and sometimes we don’t know what we don’t know until … suddenly we do.
My latest example is my car keys. I take them with me when I leave the house, even when I know my husband will be driving. Such was the case last Monday. Tuesday I reached for them to head for a meeting, and they were nowhere to be found. We both turned my purse inside out and searched every nook and cranny in the car. I checked pockets. I folded laundry and reorganized our closet. I cleaned my desk and the catch-all drawer. I retraced our steps the previous day. Those keys had disappeared.
I was stuck! I had nowhere else to look. I lived in limbo for days, dreading the cost of a replacement key.
Six days later, some spirit moved me to look in my purse again. Happy Dance time! The keys were in a side pocket I never use and we’d both overlooked. I found them when they were ready to be found. (Go ahead and laugh — or scoff. I'm not offended.)
In my last post, "Getting Traction," I wrote about being stuck. I was stuck because I was working with the wrong concept and didn’t know it yet. I was, as Ruth Pennebaker puts in her recent book title, a "woman on the edge of a nervous breakthrough." Last week, reading a guest post written by Janet Givens’ dog and riffing with Ian Mathie in the comments pushed me over the edge and that breakthrough occurred. A totally new concept struck me like a bolt of lightning. I’d been writing the wrong book! I was writing more of the same, and it’s time for a radical new approach. Of course!
This was not a fuzzy concept I had to wrestle to the ground. It was delivered complete in all detail. All I have to do is write. Which is what I’ve been doing for several days now. I’m out of the sand and have traction again. It’s going well.
But it won’t be finished right away. Life is still intervening. As I knew it would, a large editing and manuscript preparation assignment arrived in my inbox today. That job has top priority. Even without the interruption, my project would take a few months. But that’s okay. It will be done when it’s time. If I try to hurry the writing, on this book or any project, I’m likely to miss something crucial, like finding out I’m on the wrong path.
I’m not the only one who’s been stuck on a wrong writing path. I know several others whose projects floundered until they realize they had some hidden issues about content that were unresolved. Once they realized this, things snapped into focus and their stories took a much better shape.They weren't ready to understand the needed shift in focus until it happened. It wasn't time.
By the way, I’m more than a little convinced that the playfulness of Janet’s post, combined with the banter with Ian, was a magic key that unlocked the new concept. We’re never too old to laugh and play.
I’m adding three new items to my checklist for things to do when I’m stuck.
- Go back and read the map again to make sure I’m on the right path.
- Take time out to play. Have fun. Get wild and crazy and laugh a lot.
- Keep sight of the goal and have faith that I will get there. When it’s time.