1Q Interview: Jennifer McGuiggan on Finishing

Last Winter with just 5 weeks lead time, Jennifer McGuiggan of The Word Cellar decided to pull together a book of stories from women who  inspired and befriended her. The result, Lanterns: A gathering of stories is a string  lights guiding the way to the wisdom of friendships. I was honored to write the opening blessing for Lanterns (which Jennifer had to coach me through when I hit a patch of writers panic.) And I’m honored once again to have Jennifer with us today, as she talks about getting a creative project to “done.”

Q: This project came together quite quickly for you. Do you think some people are “built for speed” when it comes to getting things done? How would you describe your “get it done” style? How did you discover it?

Are some people built for speed? That’s a tough question, and I could probably argue both sides, but I’m going to commit to one answer: No. But before Lanterns, I would have said “yes.” And I would have said that I’m not one of those people. I have friends who seem to be built for speed, and I’ve envied their ability to get things done because I’ve often struggled with that. But when it comes down to it, I think everyone can be speedy. Or more accurately, I think everyone can create beautiful work in much less time than we think we need. But I think how fast we can create is less important than how committed we are to the work. With commitment comes momentum and speed. Everyone’s top speed is different, so the goal is not to try to work as fast as someone else, but to work as quickly and steadily as you can – and then maybe to push the envelope a bit, just to see what you’re capable of. Not every project demands that you go fast, but trying to be speedy is a good way to move past procrastination and crippling perfectionism.

At first, the idea of pulling together Lanternsin just five weeks (from conception to final production) seemed ludicrous. But that also made it seem like a fun challenge. The short timeframe forced me to stay focused. It also forced me to work through my moments of panic and lamentations of “I’ll never get this done!” (My husband can confirm that I had several of these moments, complete with weeping and wailing. All that was missing was the gnashing of teeth!)

Bonus question: What other projects do you have going on right now, and what is on the horizon?

I have a new column on my blog called “In The Word Cellar.” Twice a month I explore writing questions and dilemmas and offer tips and techniques that I use in my own writing and editing. I’ll also share writing prompts from time to time. I answer community questions, so please send yours to jennifer{at}thewordcellar{dot}com with “In The Word Cellar” in the subject line. This column will be the basis for some exciting projects in the future, so stay tuned! 

And one other cool thing to note: I’m speaking at the BlogHer Conference  in New York City this August. I’m part of a Writing Lab panel called “How to Use Blogging to Make You a Better Writer.” If you’ll be around, please join the discussion or just say “hi” if you see me.

You can learn more about the creation of Lanterns and hear an excerpt from the book at The Word Cellar Shop.  Thanks for being here!





Want to hear what Jennifer learned about working collaboratively? Curious how a creative community can support your projects? This  1Q interview  turns into a 3Q Interview at our one line soulspa, Flock: soulcare with Magpie Girl. Come join us !

Want to hear more from soulful creative and religious hybrids? Click here to see who else has stepped behind the mic.

liz elayne April 26, 2010 at 6:21 pm

love this. jenna created magic with this project and her desire to get it done and tap into that “speedy” momentum inspires me greatly.
so glad to start the day with this interview!

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