On Acknowledging Transitions

I am doing more writing these days than I have probably done since college.

I have been unavoidably reminded of how challenging it is to remain concise and on point, and to speak candidly in one’s own voice.

But unlike college I am often writing without a thesis; frequently I am writing to discover my thesis.  And that exploratory element requires that I bring a different sort of awareness to the task.

Recently, I have been getting a lot better at recognizing when one thing has turned into something else – when my point wasn’t what I thought it was, when I have more than one thing going on, when the words should be published elsewhere than originally planned.

For instance, I realized the blog entry I began this morning would work much better as a newsletter.  So, I decided to acknowledge that transition with another by taking the dog for a walk.  I moved my body, got some fresh air and sunshine, and cleared my head.  The muddle and frustration I was feeling an hour ago has dissipated and I’m feeling refreshed and once again able to focus.

But I’m going to use that focus elsewhere.  I’m going to leave that essay alone for a day or two, to let it process in the background.  I used to worry that I would lose ideas by doing this – and sometimes I do have to capture them in the moment.  But I’ve also been reminded that I can just as easily kill an idea by overworking it in an effort to “finish.”  It’s more efficient to let it be while I do other things; it will turn out better with less effort if I come back to it later.

It turned out that transition thing was a pretty good idea…  I wonder what other transitions it would be good for me to acknowledge this way?

* * * * * * * * * *

How do you know when it’s time to take a break? To switch gears? To stop and do something else? Does it help your work? Is it harder or easier to finish things that way?

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