“The problem with the U.S. government is that its allocation of resources is highly inefficient. We spend vast amounts of money on subsidies for housing, agriculture and health, many of which distort the economy and do little for long-term growth. We spend too little on science, technology, innovation and infrastructure, which will produce growth and jobs in the future. For the past few decades, we have been able to be wasteful and get by. But we will not be able to do it much longer. The money is running out, and we will have to marshal funds and target spending far more strategically. This is not a question of too much or too little government, too much or too little spending. We need more government and more spending in some places and less in others. The tragedy is that Washington knows this. For all the partisan polarization there, most Republicans know that we have to invest in some key areas, and most Democrats know that we have to cut entitlement spending. But we have a political system that has become allergic to compromise and practical solutions. This may be our greatest blind spot.”—Fareed Zakaria: Are America’s Best Days Behind Us? (via loveyourchaos)
Easier said than done, right? Here are some suggestions for making it happen.
1. Commit to writing for at least two hours every day. (Why? Because 1½ to 2 hours is the maximum that most of us can endure mentally and physically before needing a break.) So write for at least 90 minutes without getting up from your chair. Seriously. No breaks, no distractions, no getting everything else done first. And especially no e-mail and Facebook.
2. Write every day for two weeks. For most of us, that is enough to make it a habit. And I promise that if you do this, you’ll find out how much more productive you become as a writer. Try it.
3. What to do when you have holidays to observe and celebrate? Or when you are too ill to write? Or when you can’t possibly find even 90 minutes in your day to write? That is when you must write even 15 minutes each day. No matter how tired or busy or even sick you are, write 15 minutes each day. Here’s why this works:
- The hardest part of writing is getting started. We amateurs procrastinate minutes, hours, and days. (The pros – some of the best and most prolific writers – report procrastinating weeks and even years.) We’re afraid we won’t have anything to write. We’re afraid that what we write will be terrible. We’re afraid we’re not up to the real pain that good writing requires. For some of us, it’s only when the pain of what we would lose by not writing – fellowships, degree completion, book contracts, jobs – feels more real than the pain of actually writing that we even begin to write.
- If you make yourself write 15 minutes a day, you have overcome the biggest hurdle – getting started. I’ve never known anyone with the goal of writing 15 minutes a day actually limit writing to just that 15 minutes. Once you start, I promise you won’t watch the clock. You’ll write for 30, 60, even 90 minutes before you realize it. (The trick is that you tell yourself you only have to write for 15 minutes and that you can endure anything for that long. Once you start to write, the anxiety will begin to disappear and you’ll write longer.)
- Writing everyday contributes to continuity of your thinking and generating the ideas you need to write. Your mind will function differently when you write every day. We all think about our writing every day. But the cognitive processes involved in writing are different from those involved in thinking. Your project moves forward when you write… even if you write a gosh-awful first draft.”—Break Writers’ group, Columbia University (via writingadvice)
“Compassion hurts. When you feel connected to everything, you also feel responsible for everything. And you cannot turn away. Your destiny is bound with the destinies of others. You must either learn to carry the Universe or be crushed by it. You must grow strong enough to love the world, yet empty enough to sit down at the same table with its worst horrors.”—Andrew Boy (via loveyourchaos)