Monday, April 23, 2012

April Theme: Delayed Gratification Can Ruin Your Life by Dia Calhoun

If I were a porcupine, I would shoot all of my quills into the words “delayed gratification.” I loathe even the sound of the words, so test tube, so analytical. Life and joy are to be found in process, not in ends. I speak with authority on this subject because I spent most of my adolescence “delaying gratification” in the hopes of becoming a ballet dancer. While it is useful to know how to work toward a goal, it is not useful if the goal is primary and the life spent getting there is nothing.

If you are writing every day only in the hopes of being rewarded by publication or praise or a new life at some future time, then quit now. Joy, pleasure, fulfillment—reward-- are found in the process of creating and writing your novel—in the flashes of insight that arrive like arrows, in the crafting of a beautiful sentence, in the revelation of character, in the building of a story. Some sage once said that work done without thought of outcome is far superior to work done with thought of outcome. I have found this to be true. I write better if I focus on each word, each paragraph, each chapter, and forget what the agents, editors, reviewers, and readers will think.

If your first thought over your first cup of coffee in the morning is what am I going to get done today? take a good look at how you are living your life. Think instead, “What does this day hold for me? What will I bring to it and what will I find? What will I experience? And then throw those thoughts away too. Just feel the warmth of the cup in your hands; just taste, smell, and drink your coffee.

Then write.


  1. So beautiful, Dia--I love how you describe really being in the moment here.

  2. What does this day hold for me?

    YES. Thank you, Dia, for the lovely reframe!

  3. Thanks, Dia. Here's to finding joy in the journey!

  4. "Joy, pleasure, fulfillment—reward-- are found in the process of creating and writing your novel"


  5. Irene just suggested that a visit here would be good, & it was! Thank you for the good words for living each day.