Gretchen Rubin has a post: Are you a marathoner, a sprinter, a procrastinator? It's a really interesting question. Starting literally, I know that in 7th grade, my PE coach really wanted me to join track. I finally did and was immediately put into the long distance group. No questions, no practice, no trials.
It was no surprise really; he knew me pretty well. I was ok at sports but never fast. I wasn't going to suddenly become fast after a few weeks of practice. But after practicing, I found that I could run three miles. Then soon it was four, and so on. Once I built up the stamina, long distance running was more of a mental game. There was really no athletic skill required to run long distance in 7th grade. So I did it. Looking back I don't remember EVER winning but I competed. I was a long distance runner.
And that has been the way I've always approached things. I assume that I have no natural skill at whatever the project is and I look for how I can succeed anyway. Things like show up, work hard, practice every day, hope that quantity leads to quality. I may not bring the talent but I've always brought the hustle.
Thinking a little less literally, I'm still not a sprinter. In all my years of college (both bachelors and masters degrees) I only pulled one all nighter. Sure I procrastinated but I didn't wait until the night before. I just can't work that way. I naturally broke projects up into steps and tackled them one piece at at time.
I think about the artists who stay up all night to work on their art and I can't imagine doing that. I know that after dinner, I'm worthless. Other people are just getting started at 6 pm. Those same people are probably just as baffled that I like to start my creative work before 8 am. So not only am I a marathoner, I'm an early bird too. (I've noticed that those seem to go together.)
So when I think more about this year of creative habits, I have to say that these are the things that have worked for me. If you're a sprinter or a night owl, then you're going to need to approach things differently. You'll have to find what works for you.
The interesting thing is sometimes marathoners have to sprint and vice versa. So maybe the real test is when it's necessary, can you do what it takes? As I approach my book deadline, I wonder: can this marathoner pull off a sprint?