What is slogging? Working when you don’t feel like it. Sitting down at the computer to write when you have nothing to say, or continuing to write when you ran out of inspiration a few pages ago. Sewing on the missing button.
In college, certified multi-taskers like to change majors. Sometimes they double major, double minor, or get a certificate in something else. The next degree is in another discipline, and then maybe another degree in another field is next on the menu. That course keeps life interesting, keeps things moving, and it may keep you from making the contribution of which you are truly capable.
These multi-taskers have a hard time deciding what it is they want to be when they grow up, even after they’re grown up.
It’s not that you need to narrow your life’s focus on one project forever. But you do need to finish the big project, get one big project under your belt to create momentum.
As many of you know, my first big big big really big project to get nearly done is this dissertation. And it has been painful to slog through at times. I have now finished a draft of the last chapter and I’ll turn it in this week. The project is still far from being finished, but I think the worst part is over. I expected to have the whole thing finished by May, 2008. It’s now January, 2009.
Now I could tell you that one reason it wasn’t finished on time was because of people and things outside my control. But those factors are ALWAYS present; you have to work around them. Those factors are your teachers.
The strongest temptation has not been quitting, although I’ve wanted to many times. My struggle has been all the other wonderful projects I want to do, I know I can do, and those projects may actually bring income, which a dissertation does not. That’s what happens to creative people in the midst of a big project: when it’s time to slog, there are so many bright shiny new projects out there, calling your name, and promising not be tedious, ever.
There are many tactics for slogging through; I’ll post these as a reminder:
1. Decide what the big project is. Choose one to finish, even if you have several items on your plate right now.
2. Set a deadline. You may have to change it, but set one anyway.
3. Set mini deadlines for sections of the project. In the dissertation, this was done by chapters. Other projects are broken down differently.
4. Make appointments to get the work done. Do NOT wait for inspiration to come before getting to work.
5. Before your work appointment arrives, preferably the night before, ask the source of infinite intelligence to lend you some of that; if it was available to Einstein and Edison, it’s available to you, too.
6. Show up to work.
Leaving projects unfinished diminishes self confidence and makes it harder to complete the next project. If you haven’t slogged on your project yet, it may not be a big enough project for you. You don’t have to relish slogging, just do it. It’s not painful once you make up your mind to do it.