I wrote more than 100,000 words in a few months.
That’s about the size of an average book.
I’ve been writing since I could speak, but I have never formed a consistent writing habit. I always wanted to “be” a writer, but I never wrote.
Well, I realized in order to be a writer… I had to start writing.
I found joy in the activity itself, but soon enough, I found I didn’t want to write 1,000 words. Some days, it was painstakingly difficult to pull the words from my mind. Of course, other days the words flowed effortlessly from brain to computer. Either way, I persisted.
These were the lessons I learned:
5 Ways To Find Flow
So many days I got lost while typing. I often forgot what time it was or if there was anything outside the screen. I wasn’t doing this for anyone else. I was (am) writing for me. And that was incredibly liberating. I had the discipline to sit down so I was granted the freedom of flow.
When I first started, I had an awful habit of typing “tw” (for twitter.com) and “gm” (for gmail.com) Today? I still have the same habit. But I do it less.
Freedom.to is an app that blocks any website you want. I’m not quite sure where I would be without it. An essential tool for anybody who is trying to do distraction-free work. And it has been extremely important in turning my computer into a single-function device.
2. Noise-cancelling headphones
A worthy investment to block out the world and get lost in the screen. A single interruption can completely take you out of a thought.
3. Music choice matters
Also if the music does have lyrics… putting the same song on repeat can be helpful.
4. Full screen mode
A computer is used for so many different functions. For example, you can text someone, go on social media, check email, write, play music… all from one single device. By using full screen mode, you focus your brain on single focus.
5. Write first, edit later
When I first started this mission, I commonly edited my work while I was in the middle of a draft. This is a waste of time (for me). I’d rather throw up all over the page then have to clean it up later. The writer’s version of: don’t ask for permission, ask for forgiveness.
Other Realizations Along The Path
“Man, I have so much to learn“
You go into any journey with wide-eyed ambition. The novice is confident because he believes he knows the most. And this is good. Because if you thought you sucked, you probably wouldn’t hit the Sweet Spot.
That’s why you went into it – because you thought it was going to be fun and exciting. You are going to dominate. You are absolutely sure of it.
But if it was easy… everyone would do it. And although I didn’t think I had it all figured out with writing… I realized how little I knew. Which is exciting. Because it means I have so much to learn.
Write when it’s top of mind (aka 10 minutes after a cup of coffee)
If you have a thought that you are passionate about or you think would make good writing, you need to write it down immediately. You run the risk of “losing it” if you don’t.
Usually, my ideas begin to overflow approximately 10 minutes after my first and only coffee of the day.
Build a routine
Even though you should write when you’re passionate, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write when you’re not passionate.
To quote the English playwright Somerset Maugham: “I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.”
Have a goal
Whether it’s one post a week or writing a certain number of words, it’s helpful to have a goal you are responsible to hit. It can help keep you on the path.
Make it public
Tell others about your goal. This single act may be able to keep you on the path.
Private reps count too
You don’t have to publish everything you write. My goal was to write 1,000 words every day. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to publish every single word. Most of it will be bad. But that’s okay!
Quantity > Quality
From the book Art & Fear:
The teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality.
His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the “quantity” group: fifty pound of pots rated an “A”, forty pounds a “B”, and so on. Those being graded on “quality”, however, needed to produce only one pot – albeit a perfect one – to get an “A”. Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity.
It seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work – and learning from their mistakes – the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.
Writing 1,000 words a day is my version of producing objective quantity instead of subjective quality.
Find a community
You are more likely to do something when you’re a part of a group. Joining Compound Writing has been essential to helpful to keep me on the writing path.
Write about what you think about in the shower
Writing isn’t fun when you write about things you have no interest in writing about. That’s why writing for school is boring. But writing doesn’t have to be this way. You can actually write about what you’re interested in, or the things you think about in the shower. This makes for the best writing – and what I’ve tried to do on this website.
So What Should You Do?
If your goal is to write, be a writer. Or if it’s to be something else, do it. You’ll figure out the weird little tips and tactics and extra stuff after you’ve started.
Some of these tips will apply to whatever venture you’re trying to do, so I hope they were useful to you in some small way.
Thank you for reading.