So what is it I’m committing to? Basically writing. I’ve spent a long time recently only jotting down a note, a detail, or a story idea. Or I’ve tweaked an outline or a character description. That’s at best. More typically, I’ve usually ended my days with zero words written. And when I realize the size of that long, wordless streak, I’d get angry and frustrated with myself. But that usually just meant more time not spent writing, instead stewing in my funk. I’d keep my notebooks in my backpack, and I’d keep my laptop shut (or only opened to social media).
You see, when it comes to many things, I tend to ride a wave of motivation. I get excited by a new project, I jump in with both feet, and then things fizzle out after a time. But that’s how motivation works, doesn’t it? If the habit’s not there, if the discipline’s not there, motivation is simply not enough to see a long-term project–like writing, like career development–through.
I originally wanted to call this post “Recommitting” instead of “Committing,” but it wouldn’t have been as accurate. Because, with a few exceptions, the commitment wasn’t there to begin with.So that’s what this is really about. Committing to habit, to discipline, to butt-in-chair time getting the work done. So that when motivation falters–and it will–the writing will still be there.
But why am I committing now?
Well, in a couple months, my wife and I are going to have our first child. That’s a huge and exciting change I can’t wait for. But it also means that my free time is going to take a major hit. So if I don’t develop the habit of making the time to write by then, odds are, I won’t ever. That’s the first reason. The big reason.
Another reason is simply that I’ve been working on a story for too long. I’ve spent so much time outlining, world building, and defining characters, but not actually writing. It’s time to move on. To get this story written and get it out of my head. I don’t know if it’ll be any good (I hope it will), but that’s part of it too: demonstrating to myself that I can push through the internal editor and actually write.
And perhaps the lamest reasons are simply jealousy and fear. I found myself becoming increasingly jealous of writers publishing, or even updating word counts. And the more I felt this way, the more I felt further and further left behind. Like I could never catch up. Or I was afraid. Afraid to write. Afraid to turn my outline into a story. Afraid that my writing would suck. Afraid that no one would like my story. But when I realize how long I’ve only had an outline and some notes, I feel further behind. And well, there’s only one way to get out of that spiral: produce.
So what will I do now?
There’s really only one way to make it happen, and that’s simply to do it. Ignore motivation and focus on discipline. Quit whining and committing to work. To put in the time and effort, to make writing an important part of my life, and to focus on getting a story written. Completely. Then another one. And another, and another, and another. The only way to get better is to write crap and then write slightly less crappily.
My wife and I expect our first daughter to arrive around Thanksgiving. I want to have at least a rough draft done by then. My big goal is to kill two birds with one stone: focus on developing a writing habit and get a rough draft of a novel written.
You’re going to see some changes around here. I’ve already started by making some behind the scenes changes to this site, and more are on their way. But I can hear you now–“Eric, that’s not writing.” And you’re right. But I hope that in addition to photos and posts about things interesting to me that I can also use this as a way to stay accountable. And by devoting my energy to one outlet, I hope I can cut down on my social media time. If nothing else, that’ll help me avoid politics for a while.
So I’m looking forward to this. The long, lonely process of getting better, little bit by little bit. Eventually I’ll get there. I hope you’ll stick with me. Give me a thumbs up if I stick to this and kick my ass when I stumble.