Saturday, July 26, 2008

Do Something Extra

Last night, for the sheer fun of it, I wrote the most bizarre little item I've ever written (and there's considerable competition in my oeuvre for that honor.) It was a one-pager, a humor piece (my intent, anyway), aimed at the slot that The New Yorker fills with satire and wordplay.

I won't burden you just now with the details of that story. What I want to say is that it was a delight to do. It wasn't like work at all. Not like revising my long-time novel-in-progress, which has its pleasures but is work.

The light free feeling came because this writing was extra, and I had no thoughts weighing on me about whether the piece was going to turn out to be good, or saleable, or both, or neither. Writing it was a loose unweighted walk, after a day of backpacking. Though it took four and a half hours, a substantial amount of time.

The same principle--do a little something extra--works in other arenas than writing. The book I co-authored with Allan Luks, The Healing Power of Doing Good, notes that people dealing with overwhelming job pressures and looming burnout can ease their feelings sometimes by doing some little useful extra that nobody expects or requires of them.

It works because:
*it puts the power back into the hands of the doer
*it's a reminder of how much fun the work (without external pressures) can be

If you like this post, please bookmark it on, share it on StumbleUpon, vote for it on Digg. Thanks so much.


Debra W said...

I love this post, Peggy! "Writing it was a loose unweighted walk, after a day of backpacking." What a wonderful way to describe it!

And, oh yes, I loved reading, The Healing Power of Doing Good! I think I will pull that one out again, soon.


Peggy Payne said...

Thanks, Debbie. Today I've been editing that piece a little and getting some feedback. Two out of three people liked it a lot and the other thought it made no sense. I can understand both points of view.