I’ve been thinking about the last 20%. My ankle is 80% healed, my house is 80% put together, and my book is 80% finished. The last 20% is taking longer than expected.
I asked Dave about this last night. He said that, maybe, the last 20% is actually 50% of the project, but we expect it to be 20%, which is why it seems to drag on and on. The creative rush is over. For all intents and purposes, we could be done, if we were satisfied with a mostly-together house with some disorganized closets and nothing on the walls. My book could be out there for the world in just a few weeks if I weren’t concerned with making it the best book it can be.
The last 20% (which may really be 50%) takes discipline. It requires a different kind of creativity – not the flash of inspiration kind, but the kind that is honed by hard work and risk and learning from our mistakes. It requires help; for some reason, my own strength is never enough to get to the end.
With much of my life in the last 20%, I ask the question that comes to me often: what does it look like to live well in this season?
Here are the things that come to mind today.
- Don’t rush. It’s easy to want to just finish the book and finish the house and use my ankle the way I always do, but that could land me with a sloppy book, a helter-skelter house, and another injury. I need to take time to sit on my front porch and drink a cup of tea. I need to stretch my ankle every day. I need to sit with blank walls for a while and to read a book about writing. I need to give myself space for inspiration and time for rest.
- Find a new kind of creativity. Right now, I need to be creative about my time. Preschool is over for the summer, and I need to come up with some new ideas for what it looks like to be a writer + mama.
- Form a team. With my book project, I have hit the stage where everything is new. I’m learning what it means to hone a manuscript, about the elements of production like the cover and interior design, and what it takes to publish, market, and promote a book. I am developing a new skill set, and I need a lot of help. I am thankful for the people I am working with who are passing their skills along to me.
- Remember what is important. Though I want to get all of this done right now, I also don’t want to become so task-oriented that I miss what’s right in front of me. Perhaps this is a lingering lesson from my weakness. I need to spend time with friends and play with my children.
What else does it take to finish well?