writing

Just Keep Going

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There’s nothing worse than starting over.

When I finished the second draft of my book I took a little break from writing because I was so exhausted. When it came time to begin again, it felt like torture. All the momentum was gone. The muscles I had worked out from writing every day were weak again from lack of exercise.

It’s like a middle aged father watching his son, the high school quarterback, work out. His son is lifting some serious weight, pushing himself in the gym. The father can’t stop talking about what he could bench press back in his glory days. He wants to impress his son so he steps in to show him how it’s done. This dad hasn’t been physically active in a long time. He has no idea how much he can actually lift, but he tries for the weight he once maxed out at over 20 years ago. The dad goes to lift it. He can’t. It’s clearly too much. But he won’t give up. He used to be able to do this so easily! Come on! He tries again. And that’s when his body betrays him. He throws out his back. It’s violent and painful. He screams and falls to the floor. He’s humiliated. Did he cry? Yes. Like a little baby. Did he push himself so hard he pooped his pants? He’ll never tell. But yes. He totally did.

I get so mad at myself every time I go back to pick up a habit I abandoned. It’s frustrating because it used to be so easy for me to do this thing every day. Why is It not immediately easy again?! Because nothing can be done except little by little. I know it’ll eventually get easier but it sucks right now. It’s hard work. Like running a mile. The first day you do it is so much harder than the 8th day. After a month of doing it every day, you don’t even have to think about it anymore.

There’s something powerful about momentum. The snowball effect of work.

Why do I put myself through the frustration of starting again? If I just never stopped in the first place, I wouldn’t have to deal with this. If I stuck to writing, working out, reading my Bible, I’d never have to worry about that rusty stage again.

I should just keep going.

Starting My Second Draft

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This is the first draft of my book.

Today I started writing my second draft.

It was a lot harder than I thought it would be.

The first draft was easy because first drafts aren’t supposed to be good. You’ve just got to vomit up all your thoughts just to get them onto the page. You’ll edit and rewrite later so don’t even worry about the quality. Just get it out!

That was easy. That was fun.

But now I’m having to fix up all that word vomit.

I wish this was easier.

Deadlines

Douglas Adams on deadlines:

 

“I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.”

 

This last week I set deadlines for my book. I know when all four of my drafts need to be finished. I know when I need to send it off to get printed. I know when I need to make a decision about who’ll design the cover. It was a real relief to create that road map and know what exactly what needed to be done in the coming months.

But now I have to actually do the work?

Oh boy.

Daily Blogging Like Austin Kleon

 
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Austin Kleon has always talked about why daily blogging has bee so important to him as a writer. I decided to try it back in November and I finally understood what he was talking about. I’ve been going strong for 65 days straight.

Sitting down to write has gotten SO much easier. A few posts I’ve written have turned into rough drafts of chapters for the book I’m working on. And I’ve seen a HUGE spike in the number of people visiting my website.

Whenever I try to convince someone else to join me in daily blogging I always point to Austin Kleon’s post “A Few Notes on Daily Blogging” because it’s so good and he’s absolutely right.

Are all 65 of my posts incredible pieces of writing that everyone should read? No. Absolutely not. Yesterday I was so drained, in such a bad mood, and DESPERATE for something to post that I wrote about a screenshot of Shaq in a General Insurance commercial. That’s…not great. But it’s something. I’m keeping it a daily habit.

I’ve heard Conan O’Brien talk about how he’s learned to not get too obsessive about the quality of every single episode of his show. He’s doing a new one every night. That’s hundreds of shows a year. You can’t waste any time beating yourself up about a show that aired three weeks ago. You’ve got to move on and focus on the one that’s airing tonight. He says he likes to think of it like a batting average in baseball. He knows that not every show is going to be amazing but he wants to make sure they have a really high average. More good shows than bad. When you look back on the year, sure not every hit was a home run, but what’s your batting average?

I try to have the same mindset with my posts.

The other thing that was really helpful when I was starting out was Austin Kleon’s 30 Day Challenge. I used that to get through November and now the habit has stuck. Even if it’s 2 am and I’m SOOOOO tired I’ll still make sure I post something before I go to bed.

It’s a new year. Maybe daily blogging is worth trying out?

42,951 Words Remaining

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My goal is to finish the first draft of my book by January 31. I’ve been taking notes and writing little thoughts for a long time now but I thought I needed to finally commit to this thing and jump right in.

Wade Bearden told me the first draft of his book, Failing Faith,  was around 45,000 words, so I decided to use that as the target for mine.

I officially started tonight. The goal was to write 2,000 words before going to bed. I’m at 2,049. I’ve got 42,951 to go.