Savoring the Moment of Possibility
A diver stands poised at the edge of the board in a competition, and everyone hushes and watches.
The orchestra stops its cacophonous tuning in a full house and awaits the conductor’s arrival. The audience quiets, anticipating the performance to come in silence.
Some moments are ripe with anticipation and possibility.
Writing has similar moments, if you know where to look for them: before you hit publish on a blog post, or send a manuscript to the editor, or email that lengthy report to the people awaiting it. The pause before publication; the silence before sending.
Maybe this thing you’ve written will have an impact. It may mark a pivotal moment in your career, or change someone’s mind about an important issue, or resolve a thorny interpersonal problem. Perhaps, at some level, it will make the world a bit better.
This moment of possibility can feel wonderful, peaceful, or purposeful. When we rush through it, or linger in a state of stress and self-doubt, we lose the ability to savor that possibility.
Your only compensation for the work may be that sense of accomplishment, of having done something worthwhile and made an attempt. Don’t let it slip away. It is one of the secret joys of writing.
Missing the Moment
If you’ve been working up to the last second (as we all do sometimes), do you finish writing or revising and then quickly hit Send and hope for the best? Do you think, “I can’t even look at this thing any longer” and ship it off with impatience and fatigue?
We all rush right up to the deadline occasionally. Writers need deadlines to get the work done. But if we cut them too close, we lose the ability to savor that feeling of completion and deliver the work with satisfaction and even pride.
I always feel a slight sense of anxiety in my stomach when I run out of time. I suspect I’ve missed something. I worry.
Worry ruins the moment.
Letting Fear Consume the Moment
Once you have a decent draft, do you keep revising, questioning, and wondering if it’s right? Doubts and worries can creep in, and if the schedule isn’t absolute, you can linger in a state of doubt and anxiety, tweaking and tuning.
When writing my first book, I kept taking passes through, looking for more word choice changes. I started to worry about and criticize everything. Then a wise friend said “Sometimes you have to hit Publish.”
When you set your inner critic loose without boundaries, it starts questioning everything.
How to Savor the Moment
Can you make time and space for enjoying the moment of possibility? Can you embed the opportunity to savor the pause before publication into your writing practices? And what would your writing life feel like if you did?
There’s any easy way to find out: Plan to finish—really finish—a project the day before you hit Send. Give yourself a deadline the day before the real due date.
If you plan to publish a blog post on Wednesday, wrap it up on Tuesday. On Tuesday, read it through, tweak and tune it knowing that this is not the last moment. Then congratulation yourself. Knowing that you have one more opportunity to look at it lessens any stress or anxiety.
Wednesday, read it one more time. (You have a much better chance of catching stray typos when you have a night’s worth of distance.) You might even find something you really want to change, or an idea that elevates the piece. That’s a bonus.
Then—and this is key—savor the moment with intention. Even if it’s only a minute, acknowledge what you’ve written and its possible impact in the world. Take pleasure in the effort. Then hit send.
These experiences make writing more enjoyable, which inspires you to do more of it.
Try it and let me know what you think.