When I was in high school, I memorized Grieg’s “Wedding Day at Troldhaugen” for a piano recital. It was thirteen pages long, and while I loved most of the song, there were two pages of slower tempo in the middle that killed me. For whatever reason, I could not get them into my head. And so, day after day, those were the pages that I had to practice, when really all I wanted to do was play through the pages that I loved. It was painful to restrain myself to playing only those two pages, but it eventually came together. Playing that song through entirely from memory remains one of the greatest triumphs in my memory.
Now I’m there again, only this time, it’s words on the page instead of notes. All I really want to do is look at all the nice, neat parts of my book that work well and flow well and sound clever. But there are these two chapters in the middle that are threatening to visit my nightmares for years to come. I kind of feel like I’m going to spontaneously combust if I have to read them one more time.
It’s hard to face the imperfections in your work. It’s painful to whack at them over and over again and feel like you’re cutting down the mightiest tree in the forest with a herring. But little by little, they come together. Patience, diligence, perseverance. It’ll come, it’ll come, it’ll come, it’ll come.
How do you get through the frustration of imperfection? What do you do to keep yourself focused on the problems that need to be solved?
PS If you need help staying focused, try this: place a thumb on either side of your forehead and bring your pointer fingers together to form a triangle. Point at your computer (or notebook or whatever) and shout “FOCUS!” as loud as you can. It works wonders with my piano students. You’re welcome! 🙂