THE RHYTHM OF WRITING: A BAD HABIT TO BREAK

Note:  Longer post. Cross posted on elizabethmaxim.com

I’m a person who believes it’s best to treat the root cause than a symptom if you want to solve a problem. 

This approach served me well while dealing with EMF Sensitivity.

It can be a bit tricky because root cause is not always easy to identify.  

Troubleshooting.  

Assuming you are aware of the symptom(s), the best place to start – in my experience – is to ask yourself a simple question

What changed?

This is something I learned while working in tech.

Nothing, damn it!

I always got a kick out of a customer vehementaly insisting nothing had changed – the workstation performance just suddenly degraded.  

If everything was fine and now it isn’t?  Something changed.

 A lot of times the something that changed happened elsewhere making it unknown to the user.

i.e., someone added another protocol to the network which created additional traffic which…

I Didn’t Realize.

More than once I stood witness to a bitter dispute between an end user and a network administrator wherein the administrator insists it was such a small change, it couldn’t possibly be having that much of an impact.

It’s interesting to watch CAD guys working to keep their cool in such a situation.

These arguments often had two levels

  • The problem
  • The problem that is a result of the problem

It’s bad enough the administrator doesn’t grasp the impact of even slight performance degradation.

They often seemed to think the designer was exaggerating, that it was no more than annoyance.

The designer’s performance is impacted.

Not the workstation running the CAD program – the designer since his ability to meet deadlines was impacted.

In general, once the disagreement got to that level of communication it was simply a matter of addressing the situation.

The administrator understood and accepted even small changes can have big impact.

The fix.

This is not always easy since it’s not just a matter of undoing whatever was done.

Maybe that protocol has to be on the network to serve other users.

While I could share a number of solutions to such an issue the point is that when something happens to productivity – identifying the root cause can be time consuming and energy draining – and solutions not always easy to implement.

Or even to find.

This happened to me with regards to my writing.  Or, more specifically, its rhythm.

Something’s wrong?

Because I had a number of projects in the queue I didn’t even realize something was off until very recently and when I figured it out I misunderstood the root cause.

Timing.

Though this started two years ago, I didn’t begin seriously analyzing the problem until yesterday.

Because I didn’t know there was a problem.

No.  It’s Timing.

It wasn’t until walking on the UW Campus near the Neptune theatre that I understood just how off my internal rhythm was.

And it wasn’t until writing about the concert I understood the impact that had on my writing career.

In Plain Sight.

I wrote that the pandemic was one of the more prolific times of my career, suggesting the impact wasn’t as significant as other things going on at the time.

Including my efforts to recover from heavy metal poisoning (cadmium, nickel, mercury, calcium, among others).

As I further considered I realized it really was the pandemic that started all the trouble to begin with.  

Or, one aspect of it.

Rhythm in Chains.

When we went into full lockdown other than walking outdoors I was unable to continue a number of routines.  What I didn’t realize was how important those routines were to the rhythm of writing.

For me.

Or how strongly said rhythm was integrated with the external environment.

On the surface I understood the frustration.  So much so that I channeled that frustration into writing.

I kicked out a number of books in a span of months.

Time Out.

It eventually got to a point where walking outdoors and writing from dawn to dusk 7 days a week wasn’t working.

I was treating a symptom not the root cause and I still didn’t realize there was a problem!

I used the time I gained not going anywhere that wasn’t pure necessity to make career changes.

Necessity to someone else maybe but as my experience taught me – those “non” necessity trips were important to my health and career well-being.

I used the time not going out except for walks to ponder my goals.

Eventually, I quit going out to walk. It was too depressing.

I moved peas around on the plate to facilitate meeting the goals.  

Little did I know those efforts were only dealing with symptoms.

How Long Has This Been Going On?

It took almost another entire year of taking actions I now realize were just addressing symptoms to understand there was a bigger issue.  What tipped me off?  Walking around campus before the concert.

Now that I think of it – it started before – on the subway.

It was the Familiarity That Did It.

It was the first time I rode the Seattle subway.  

I was amazed at how similar it felt to when I regularly rode the BART and MUNI while living Downtown SF.  

I realized at that moment how integrated such an urban rhythm was to my soul.**

And how badly its absence had affected me.

Next Stop?  Cherry Blossoms.

I was admiring the cherry blossoms and the general atmosphere when I realized how similar it felt to parts of Ann Arbor in the summer.  

This was a regular part of my life for over a decade.

I made a note to return and just soak up Nature’s Rhythm.

Which is also critical to my writers soul.

Social Gathering Pandemic Style.

I wrote that attending a concert while wearing a mask – though the right thing to do – is hot.

We’d seen Shinedown and Ayron Jones* at the Moore so I had gone through this once before and knew what to expect.

Shared Rhythm.

Fortunately, none of that diminished the joy of being with people who were thrilled to be enjoying a live performance.

I think some of that joy stemmed from being able to share it with like-minded concert goers.

It was while writing about it that I came to see how important routine is to my internal rhythm.

At least when it comes to writing.

I also see how changes I unconsciously made to address the situation did not resolve it.

Because those changes dealt with symptoms – not the root.

Like Perspective, Timing is Everything.

In other words, now what?

Due to the nature of where I live and the approach to the pandemic, there’s only so much I can do to reestablish old routines but now that I know what the root cause is?  I can be more strategic about the solutions I consider.

One I did yesterday was to install another version of Freecell.  

Playing this game while listening to music puts my mind into a meditative state that is good for creativity.

It’s apparently good for my soul too because in those weeks it was gone?  Even though I continued to listen to music while working, I was starved of the serenity that goes with it.

I hope you enjoy the photos.

*AWESOME performance.

**Since I spent a great deal of my youth in Downtown Detroit I’m wondering if urbanity is in my soul. 

I wouldn’t be surprised.

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