Excellence On Demand

Here's my favorite part of being a writer: having to be creative on demand.

I'm writing a speech for a company and have been staring at my computer like a dullard for the last two hours. I'm trying to come up with a genius way of explaining a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis that will both engage and amaze an audience.

So far, nothing.

I've learned not to panic. It will come, usually at some inopportune time like when I'm in the shower far away from pen and paper or when I'm half asleep. I'd rather have the shower. When I'm half asleep I always manage to convince myself I'll remember the solution I thought of and then I wake up the next morning and find all I remember is that I had a great solution, but retain no clue as to what it might have been. This has happened more times than I care to recall. I've probably lost my chance at winning the Nobel prize because I didn't feel like sitting up and turning on the light.

My problem is I'm not patient. I want the answer to my problem NOW so I can finish the speech, e-mail it off, and move in a nice linear fashion to the next item on my never-ending "to do" list. (In case you can't tell, I'm a big fan of checkmarks).

It's so odd I'm a writer. I've never thought of myself as a creative person. I can't sing, draw, act, paint, sculpture, dance, or some days even walk in a straight line. Some of my writer friends are what I call the dreamy variety. That means they sit in front of me and sip coffee out of big mugs and wear far-off expressions and say things like, "If I didn't write, I'd die! It's like the words are in my blood and I just have to get them out on paper. I have no control--they just come flowing out of me."

Yes. I'd like to beat these people with a sharp stick.

I rarely have that feeling that the words must come pouring out of me. My feeling is usually more one of, "I conned my husband into letting me stay home and work as a writer so perhaps I should scribble something down to at least make it look like I'm trying."

Writing for me is like exercise. I don't enjoy doing it, but I LOVE the feeling when I'm done. I think that's why I'll make it as a writer. I have a stick-to-it-ness that I think is necessary for the craft. I enjoy the challenge.

It's like being a vegetarian. I don't eat meat because I think it's insane the cruelty we subject animals to before we eat them, and I really don't think eating semi-tortured animal meat can be good for your body. But aside from the moral issue, there is also a big ego part of me that likes being vegetarian because it's something not everyone can do. Some people just don't have the willpower for it and I do and I LIKE that feeling.

That's how it is with writing. I may not be the fastest or the most creative but I DO it, and a lot of people out there claiming they want to be writers don't have the willpower for it.

All that being said and done, if anyone out there has any good ideas on how to talk about a SWOT analysis, how about e-mailing me? If I don't get back to you right away, it's because I'm sleeping or in the shower.