Lately I’ve been amazed by how little I often accomplish in a full day’s work. I sit at my computer for hours at a time, typing, reading, revising, becoming aggravated, becoming inspired, on it goes, and at the end of the day, only a few measly unpolished pages to show for it. Such is the life of a writer.
When I first encountered this week’s quote in June of last year, the suggestion of a “commitment to error and floundering” seemed strange to me. I wondered why Goethe didn’t declare the day “committed to progress.” Is “error and floundering” really something that we should strive for?
As my recent experiences have shown me, progress isn’t a linear path of maximum efficiency, it requires struggle. Trial and error is an important part of the creative process, and hopefully it will lead to an optimal solution, but not before many failures. There will be days when, despite sincere effort, no forward progress will be made; instead of writing a new chapter, I cut six existing paragraphs. It happens, but the struggle brings me closer to the result I am straining to achieve, and this is what I believe Goethe meant.
To say that the day is committed to progress is to apply an unrealistic standard. Dedication to continuing the struggle each day, regardless of how arduous the process becomes, does not ensure success, but the compounding effort will inevitably produce progress.