The immortal Rick Steves said this about traveling to Naples, Italy (probably Naples, Florida too):

“If something’s not to your liking, change your liking.”

After reading his Italy guidebook before traveling there for a friend’s wedding in 2016, I think about these words more often than is likely healthy.

On the one obvious hand it is advice to not be so rigid and picky, especially when traveling to foreign lands. Bringing more equanimity to our lives in general would probably reduce our angst by half, if not more.

On the other hand, maybe less obvious, I read this as not being precious about your current situation. To wit, I wake up each weekday morning, make coffee, play with the cat, stretch and write. It’s pretty good, right? I’ve been doing it for almost fourteen years now. It’s a bonafide habit and generally it feels virtuous and right.

And yet… and yet.

It takes me a long time to write a novel with this particular habit that I like so well.

It’s also taken me a long time to realize something needs to change if I want to finish drafts a little quicker.

As so often with the dawn of a new year, I find myself thinking about these kinds of things, looking for methods, for inspiration. I read books, listen to podcasts, search the internet.

Through this quest, one thing occurs to me: Any real change I’ve ever made in my behavior has been a combination of wanting things to be different and figuring out a sustainable way to make them so.

It’s kind of like writing (at least for me) in that to find what works, you go through a bunch of what doesn’t.

Since the new year, I’ve decided to write in the evening as well as the mornings. Not every evening and not for long stretches, maybe a half hour or hour.

And it seems to be working.

I’m making solid headway through some of the stickiest parts of the novel, just chipping away a little more frequently.

A few of observations:

  • I feel better in general instead of lamenting how slowly I’m writing/editing
  • I feel better knowing I didn’t piss away that time looking at my soccer list feed on Twitter or playing Assassin’s Creed Odyssey (although I will get back to that eventually!)
  • It doesn’t feel odious and doesn’t weigh me down during the day. I look forward to the evening sessions because it feels like gravy.

Combining that with a deadline for wrapping up edits by the end of April, I think I might be on to something that could very well stick. As with most changes, time will tell, but I look forward to finding out.

Now, off for an evening editing sesh.

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