Writers Write

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

–Calvin Coolidge

It has been a tough work week—a tough few weeks, actually. I’ve been juggling a book release, final edits on the 2nd manuscript, tax returns for my first year of business, and getting our house ready for sale. The number of PR appearances and engagements required of me has exploded, too, and eaten up what’s left of my free time. (I’ll be on television tomorrow, check the “Media” section later for a clip.) I’m still exercising religiously, though I find training more energizing than exhaustive. On top of all that, I decided that this time around, I would not take a break from writing as I so often do when needing to swap hats from writer to business person. No, I would continue to do my 10-12 pages a day in addition to all of the aforementioned responsibilities. I made a promise to myself and to my readers that I would have the 3rd and 4th manuscripts finished and entering production this year. I intend to keep that promise, if at the expense to my sanity. Hopefully, I don’t end up like the late and great Stieg Larsson.

Where does one find the time to relax with such a regimented life? Rest and relaxation, too, must be scheduled. I usually get at least an hour a day to myself that I can use to vegetate, read, or do something completely mindless. Relaxation is an important part of our lives, even among those of us with go-go-go personalities. Even the strongest engines run out of gas, eventually. “Oh, well that all sounds terribly unfun,” you say. “I’ll just put on my snuggie and watch Real Housewives instead.” An opinion that I am hard pressed to counter, since as a libertarian, I encourage everyone to find their own road to happiness. If that example brings you joy, great. If it only makes you miserable, and leaves you feeling unfulfilled, perhaps take a gander at my life-intervention post: “How many days do you have left?” I’ve counted my number, and I need to get moving if I want to get everything done. Which is why I live by a sometimes unpleasant routine. We have choices and we have time. I can think of few elements more crucial to manage than those. Also, for every path taken, another road is left behind. That’s just how life works. I’d love to join the hypothetical vegetator on the couch and watch Real Housewives—heck, sometimes during my “hour” I do. However, I have to make sure I’m making headway into my 70+ manuscripts first.

Here’s the big secret many creatives won’t necessarily share: it’s not always fun. For me, it’s about a 25:50:25 split ratio of passion/ application/ drudgery. During certain parts of each day, the words flow, magically. I have no idea from where that muse comes, or what triggers her, though I let her possess me for as long as she desires. Almost always, the muse checks out—other artists, other persons to inspire—and I hit a wall. A cement wall of thought where maybe a sentence is typed every 5 minutes, then usually backspaced into oblivion. Still, as hard as it can be “forcing” yourself to squeeze out creative art, as unnatural as that process sounds, it is exactly what a prolific writer needs to do. Creation does not happen spontaneously unless you’re a divine entity. For the rest of us mortals we need to A.) Find a block of time B.) Use said time appropriately and not waste precious moments trolling the internet C.) Ideally produce something worthwhile during that period. Now for me, “C”, doesn’t always happen—though that’s what drafts and revisions are for. The most important part of creating is doing. No matter what your profession or devotion might be, in order to master it, in order to have any chance at success, you need to apply yourself wholly and repeatedly to the process. Half-assed attempts usually produce half-assed results. It’s a very basic formula.

Now, I have to go figure out what the heck I’m going to wear tomorrow. I’ll be honest with you, and it’s a small mercy, though I’m glad I get a day off from the keyboard. I hope that each of you have a restful Sunday, and whatever your vocation or calling I wish you many successful steps down that road. Whenever you trip, remember to get up quickly and keep walking. As far as you feel you’ve come, your drive and determination will take you farther.

All my love,