Michael Meng is an historian with an admirable work ethic. He came to the writer’s retreat to complete research for one project, but very quickly I learned about his previous projects and books he had planned into the future. That’s one luxury in writing about history, I suppose, a lot of material.
What interested me about Michael was his approach to writing practice. He explained that an increase in his productivity came when he got his own work done right away in the morning. He had been feeling put-upon by his students. A reaction that many teachers experience when the balance tips away from one’s own interest and toward a multitude of others. By closing the door in the morning and isolating the time he had for his own research, he was able to be more open and present in afternoon student meetings. A technical shift on the calendar transformed his equanimity. By the time he came to the retreat, he had woven that way of being into his whole routine, including research, composition, editing, and the business of his profession (not to mention exercise and nutrition). He seemed to be on the early end of everything, no matter what time of day.
I’m excited about a similar shift in my own schedule. I’ve set a course to complete regular morning pages, do a concept illustration, and polish a blog post each day. I’m enjoying the time in studio, the chance to play with visual languages and new tools, and to be in both theory and craft at the same time. Taking after Michael’s insight, my mantra is ‘get yourself satisfied.’