Do You Have A Routine?
I don’t know about you, but I try to start each day the same way.
I roll out of bed at around 6:30am, walk Lexy the Doodle--who waits for my feet to hit the floor--before deciding I should immediately take her out. She doesn’t have any regard for whether I should get dressed or brush my teeth.
The schedule used to be, dog walk, twenty minutes in the gym, shower, breakfast, a dose of the news (but not too much unless I want to ruin the day) then to my computer to write by 9:00am. I just completed a short story, which was my way of procrastinating on my next novel.
I find that ritual is really important to getting any work done from home. Which has been the story of most of our lives for the last couple of years, though I’ve now been doing it for five.
Except everything has been turned upside down for the past two months since I volunteered to do a TedX Talk. It wasn’t so bad at first. I had ten weeks to prepare a speech and learn it. In theory it’s all manageable. But in practice…. Each passing day is one more day that I have to push aside the worry and anxiety.
Can I remember my lines when I don’t have any assistance? It’s one of the reasons I never became a stage actor. Well maybe not the only reason. That and the fact that I have limited acting talent.
My only stage presence as a twenty-something was as a father in a Winnie the Pooh production. I had three lines which I spent two weeks rehearsing before I could repeat them reliably. Rote is not a talent of mine.
“The quality of mercy is not strained. It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven. It is twice blessed.” That’s it for my Shakespeare repertoire.
I’m not too worried about the stories in my speech. For years I’ve been writing about and teaching the value of telling a great story without getting the words perfect. People connect with stories and storytellers. With emotions that touch them. Not with facts.
But it’s the link between the stories that has to be mastered. The risk that I will lose my way. Tell them out of order. Lose the thread of the argument.
I have always prided myself on not being a perfectionist, but now I find myself in the center of an obsession to be precise. To give the perfect speech. To have the audience laugh on cue and cry when I want them to cry. I also recognize I will not be perfect. They say perfect is the enemy of good.
So as I began this post, my routine has been hijacked by the need to deal with the effort not to be perfect, but to be close.
I’s like trying to master the golf swing. You may be perfect on the range, but look out for that first tee, especially when there are no Mulligans.
In the mean time I’m about to get back into my routine. I’ll re-read that speech text just one more time, then walk Lexy.