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  • Writer's pictureDebra Stang

Writing 101: Recognizing Your Blind Spots

My 12-year-old cat, Achilles, has a problem: He doesn't realize that his tail is supposed to be permanently attached to him. On most days, he chases it until he is dizzy. Then he tries to walk away with dignity, hissing in frustration as the tail follows right behind him.

A few days ago, he jumped up on my writing desk where I had a candle burning. Busy with a tough editing project, I shooed him away. He angrily slashed his tail back and forth over the open flame…and set it on fire!

I screamed and grabbed his tail with both hands. In the end, his fur got a little singed, but the fire never touched his flesh. I was left with a tender red spot on my left palm.

And the funny thing is, he never realized for a moment that he was in danger. In fact, he scratched me for pulling his tail.

Talk about a blind spot! And yet, I know I have blind spots at least that big.

Underestimating Projects

Historically, one of my biggest blind spots was under-estimating how long it would take me to complete a project. Because I love the work I do, I scarcely noticed the hours flying away–but fly they did, and I often found myself far behind without knowing how I'd gotten that way. Once I owned the problem, the solution was simple. I started padding my time estimates by 25% to 50%. Like magic, I stopped missing deadlines and started satisfying customers.

Poor Self Care

When I was in graduate school, my motto was, "Sleep is an evolutionary relic." A bad bout with mononucleosis and walking pneumonia convinced me that I was wrong.

But I still get distracted sometimes and forget to make time for breaks, nutritious meals and snacks, spending time with friends and family, and getting adequate rest. Naturally, when I skip these must-haves, the quality of my work suffers.

Just like my cat, Achilles, needs to remember he has a tail that is under his protection, I need to remember that whatever I do to my body, good or bad, affects my ability to write. It's taken a while, but I'm getting there.

What are your blind spots when it comes to writing?

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