I make Arbitrary Rules for myself. Then when these rules get in my way, all action ceases, and I stare at my Arbitrary Rule and wait, wait, wait, begging it to move, but it just sits there. In my way.
These rules were intended to support my writing. When I first started blogging, they gave me a target. Examples of my Arbitrary Rules (AR) include:
- I must post twice a week on Toss the Typewriter (Arbitrary Rule #1).
- I will post on Sunday and Wednesday (AR #2).
Today is Sunday, so I must write my blog before I do anything fun (AR #3). I can go to Church, which is not really fun, but it is a chance for self-reflection, so it’s kind-of like cheating. I can drink my coffee and eat my breakfast. I can grocery shop or read (as long as it’s not a fun book), and I can talk with my husband about household business, like ‘has the lawn mower been fixed’, or ‘have you removed the spider hotel from over the sliding door’.
As long as I meditate about what to write in my blog, I can lie in my hammock and watch the clouds float by. Plus, Sunday’s a day of rest, so I feel as though I honor the day and God by lying on the hammock.
Today I want to work on my novel. But you see, lately writing my novel has been really fun. My protagonist is pretty kick-ass cool (although she doesn’t know it), and my plots and subplots are coming together. And there in a nutshell is my problem. I want to fall into my make-believe world and spend the afternoon having fun writing my story. But first, before I have that fun, I must write my Sunday post (see AR #1).
So I was lying on the hammock thinking about this dilemma, and it made me wonder, who made these rules anyway! Why must I write every Sunday and Wednesday? Why must I write my blog before my novel on Sundays (and my novel before my blog on Wednesdays – AR #4)?
I decided to go on strike, much like the Market Basket workers down the street who have me driving 30 minutes to purchase groceries.
I will do something fun before I write my blog!
Honk if you think Arbitrary Rules are meant to be broken!
I sat up in the hammock, inspired to change my world, but mostly a bit thirsty, and thinking about those peanut butter bars my niece left behind.
Breaking AR #5, which is “write first, then surf”, I opened Internet Explorer (IE), which automatically opened all of my social media accounts. I checked Facebook and closed the tab. I checked Twitter and closed the tab. I checked all of my email accounts and closed them all.
And then there it was, Toss the Typewriter, the last tab of IE. It stared at me, just waiting, daring me to click the ‘x’ in the upper right-hand corner. Determined to break my Arbitrary Rules, I moved my mouse toward the ‘x’ and that’s when I see it. My little stats bar has flat-lined.
On Wednesday though, when my Weekly Brief (AR #6) is due; when I’m supposed to write my next Lean In post (AR #7), I might just break my rules. All bets are off for Wednesday.
But I must confess, I’m really writing my blog first because I started to have fun thinking about these Arbitrary Rules and how they govern my life. And there’s my final conundrum; a sort of Catch-22: I’m not supposed to have fun until after my blog is written…
Do you have arbitrary rules that were created to keep you on task that now prevent you from doing things you want to do? If so, I’d love to hear about them.