The challenges of composing

Authoring a weekly newspaper column of exactly 600 words is not a simple undertaking.

Believe you me, there are times when finding the necessary hours to complete such an essay is an exceptionally daunting task.

Coming to a decision regarding what to write about is the first challenge. During some weeks there are a myriad of options to choose from, but at other times my mind is utterly bereft of ideas.

Doing what’s necessary often requires sacrifice, since figuring out how to create the necessary time for writing, editing, and revising when no convenient opportunity exists often seems impossible.

Eventually though, I’ll decide on a topic to write about, and then explore the subject from several perspectives, or sometimes from just one offbeat or unique one.

For the sake of my own mental, physical, and emotional health, I rarely stay up past 11 o’clock at night wordsmithing, as by that time I’ve usually reached (or passed) the point of diminishing returns.

Going any further at that stage, given that I’ve probably already had a day that’s been full of activity and/or stress, would more than likely be counterproductive, and probably frustrating as well.

Having space to write is important, and on that score I’m lucky, since the other people living at our residence generally don’t wake up quite as early as I do.

In fact, there are times when I’ll have been in front of the computer for two hours or more before anyone else in the house has gotten out of their bed.

Just the other day I began composing this particular essay at five o’clock in the morning, and aside from the sound of my fingers attacking the keyboard, I didn’t hear a peep until nearly four hours later!

Keys to ultimately succeeding include patience, imagination, and perpetual kindness, both to myself and to others.

Letting things I can’t control distract me is something I assiduously try to avoid.

Making the best use of the time I’ve got during any given week is essential as well.

Nearly as important, though, is staying cognizant of what’s going on around me.

Or to put it another way, maintaining awareness of my surroundings is vital.

Putting together a perfect essay in a single draft just isn’t possible, or at least it isn't in the world I inhabit.

Quickness is an asset if you’re trying to evade a defender on the basketball court or the soccer pitch, but it’s a rare writer who can put thoughtful, impactful and memorable words together in a brief period of time.

Rare individuals can produce memorable prose in just one sitting, but sadly, I’m not one of those prodigies.

Several factors are responsible for this, I suspect.

Trying to maintain balance in other portions of my life is one of them.

Under no circumstances, for example, would I give up time with loved ones just to produce 600 words.

Vocalizing what I’ve written (carefully reading each sentence out loud) is a surprisingly fruitful way of improving what I’ve cobbled together.

When my creative juices are flowing I feel confident enough to believe that what I’ve put together won’t require additional hours of fine-tuning, although at other times I think I’ll never be able to produce anything that a rational person would want to read

X-rays of my head would probably show nothing on those occasions.

You know what’s really tough, though?

Zealously trying to create a 600-word essay where the first word begins with the letter A, and each of the next 25 sentences starts, in precise descending order, with the next letter of the alphabet!

Andy Young
October 22, 2023

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