What is the purpose?

Every second, ask yourself: What is the purpose of this moment?

You are sitting in front of your computer, typing away trying to curb the fierceness of your thoughts, when an urge to look up an online sale comes along. And you step on the breaks of a 100 mile per hour train to full stop to skip to the next open tab and look for a few seconds. When you cannot find the item you want quick enough, you jump back to the previous tab, but the train is not there anymore. It exploded, and it took the tracks with it. And you try to go back to the online store tab but you realize you don’t even really need the item, so you go to where all days go to die: Social Media.

No matter how scrambled your brain is, or how scattered your ideas, you can always head back to the purgatory that is social media and scroll your day away and feel, if not slightly accomplished, at least normal.

May I suggest an alternative?

With everything you do, ask yourself “what is the purpose of being here?” In this moment, why did I set out to do? When you opened the lid of your laptop, what was the plan? What compelled you to do it? Were you aiming for a productive morning of writing before you ended up on an online store and then on social media? Make it your life’s mission to protect that purpose at all costs. No one is going to tell you what to do. Every truly difficult endeavor is yours only to traverse. There are no parents, teachers or bosses pointing you in the right direction. You have to point yourself, to force yourself to walk the way.

Find some tips on productivity elsewhere on my blog. But always try to only keep at hand the tools necessary to complete the task you set out to do, and nothing else. One thing at a time is way better for productivity than all at once. There is no such thing as multiple priorities running in parallel. The word priority is derived from the Latin prioritas, meaning “first in rank, order, or dignity.” The word itself contradicts having multiple priorities. There can only be one priority.

Do less, better.

Prose Styles – Plainsong and Baroque

In prose, there are two different styles. Plainsong and Baroque. You might have heard of them. Let me explain each one briefly, and provide an example piece of text telling the same story in the two different styles.

Plainsong

Short sentences, not many adjectives and adverbs. Blunt and straightforward.

The little girl came in. She murmured something to the teacher. She left the room running. The teacher announced the secret to the classroom. The girl had a crush on me. They all laughed.

Baroque

Ornamented. A lot of subordinate clauses. A lot of adjectives and adverbs, Pile on of detail and syllables.

The little girl peeked with scared and longing eyes from the hallway. The teacher turned her humongous body around to look at the girl pacing back and forth behind her. “What is it?” she said. The little girl came in and covered her mouth and the teacher’s ear with her little hands. She murmured a magic spell that transformed the teacher’s face from worry to a devious smile. The little girl disappeared in an instant, her little steps still echoing in the silence of the school hallways during class time. The classroom was silent like the crowd at a funeral, waiting for the priest to speak. And she did speak. “She said she liked the skinny white boy sitting at the front seat,” the teacher said leaning on her desk, her belly fat coming off each side of her chair. Everyone looked at me. I wished they would speed it up and bury me already. Instead, they took their time and ate me alive.

Each style has its use. The former gives the reader a sense of urgency, which is what you want in a fast paced thrill of a story, or a piercing comedy. The latter concentrates on the detail, and puts the reader inside the situation; the writer takes the reader’s hands and shows him the world as the writer sees it, through all five senses.

Now it’s your turn. Practice each style. Which style is best for your project? Which one will help move your story forward? Consider keeping a journal, and reflect upon these questions daily. You can even fix your morning routine while you’re at it.