The beginning of the semester seems like a good time to recall lessons previously learned. Taking stock can energize a person for the new task at hand. You've got a nice big Herculean one of those in front of you, don't you. I thought as much.
Here are five of my lessons learned. Maybe they'll be of use to you. Maybe we can swap.
1. I learned what "Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work" (Flaubert) means, beyond the lip service.
2. I learned that carrying a small notepad-- just in case--encourages my mind to wander to work-in-progress even while doing other things. Joyce Carol Oates once said that housework helped her concentrate. Repetitive movement loosens thinking. Remember how your little nephew would spill all the family business the moment you put him on a swing? Resting my case…
3.I learned that fickleness is its own reward. When my routines stop helping, I change them. This year, I changed the time of day I write, the feng-shui of the room in which I write, and my equipment. I was convinced I'd hate this laptop, but now I'm in love.
4. I learned to use concepts from other fields and apply them to my writing. Reading about psychological distance in a science magazine, for instance, helped me to develop empathy for one of my more unlikeable characters.
5. I learned to leave myself hanging. If I stop writing in mid-sentence, I have a place to plunge into the following day, and something to anticipate. Or dread.