a small daily task


"A small daily task, if it be really daily, will beat the labours of a spasmodic Hercules." - Anthony Trollope

19th-century novelist Anthony Trollope worked as a civil servant for the General Post Office in England. Full time. He did not inherit wealth. To write his novels (and he wrote many, many novels) he got up at dawn and wrote every day. According to his autobiography, he gave himself a daily quota of words, and met it. If he happened to conclude a novel midway through the morning's task, he'd begin another one.

His reputation as a writer declined after he died and the autobiography was published. His methodical and businesslike and daily approach to his work was not how people wanted to imagine inspiration, art, creativity.

And maybe for some people, creative work is occasional - inspired - irregular. For myself, though, I get the best results when I find a way to do something small every day. Especially when I feel stuck. Out. Dull. I do the work anyway. What happens? Some possibilities: 1.The work is dull. I was right. But I've kept the momentum going, and maybe tomorrow will be better. 2. I'm stuck, but I have to do something. In desperation, I reach around for something--anything--to do, don't care what it is, and in that reckless mood, I find a new idea or a new process. 3. The work seems dull to me as I do it, but looking back on it, I realize that I was learning something new, and just not yet able to express it fully. 4. The work seems dull to me, but others appreciate it - I wasn't ready to understand it myself yet.



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