My life is a rough draft that I haven’t finished revising. I’m flirting with a bevy of things to do every day, and for the most part, I’ve automated many aspects of my life. It’s great! Except when I’m not in the mood to do something. Then life sucks, and I fight against all my natural urges and do the habit because I have to check it off my list to be happy. Or I have days like today, a day not very different than any other, and I love everything I’m doing that I’m going to do even more so I commit myself to one more habit while keeping all my other, more important habits, and removing one of my “unproductive” habits, a.k.a watching TV after work, just to have the time to do it. Will I succeed? Who knows! But I’m trying it anyway because I want to see this through.
The new habit is writing another 300 words every day at around 4:15 PM, or after I come home from work. It doesn’t take me very long to get started in the morning and get those 300 words written. I usually read what I wrote the previous day or two, and I simply continue the book. I can apply the same routine later in the day, right? I’m about to find out. I want to do this for many reasons. Writing 300 words a day isn’t that much in the grand scheme of things. I can double my output and pace if I double that. What I can produce in two months I can produce in one. That thought intrigues me. Another reason is that I’m on the first draft of the second draft of this story I’ve been working on since 2011. I threw away the first draft and started over with this new draft. First drafts are supposed to be shitty. Mine’s shitty, so that rule holds true. Let me just get this shitty draft over with, then I don’t have to stare at a blank page anymore. I can revise revise revise, and only then can I push my novel to the limits and produce some good work. In the end, that’s the goal.
I want to be published, yes, but I don’t want to publish shitty first drafts, even if they are good enough to be published (which they aren’t nor ever will be). I want to write well, and I want to write good novels. If I was the main character in some freshman screenwriter’s first screenplay, I want to be published, but I need to write well. To write well, I have to write every day. The best way to write every day is to set up a routine, and my routine is to get up at 5 fucking AM in the morning, brew a cup of coffee, sit down by my desk, open Scrivener, enter full screen mode, and start writing. I keep hitting ⌘⇧T to view my statistics, to see how close (or far) I am from 300 words. Eventually I get there, and then I start my morning routine and the rest of my day. For those of you taking notes, it’s all about consistency. I have this poster on my wall that says Slow and Steady Wins. That’s my philosophy with all this routine shit. Little by little we build the life we want by doing the things to get us there. And I figured I wasn’t doing enough, so I decided to write more every day because I don’t already write enough.
There’s this idea I learned today from Josh Waitzkin that he wrote about in his book, The Art of Learning, which I want to read. He describes this concept of making smaller circles. This is how he describes it:
In Making Smaller Circles we take a single technique or idea and practice it until we feel its essence. Then we gradually condense the movements while maintaining their power, until we are left with an extremely potent and nearly invisible arsenal.
Right now I’m doing all I can to see what works and what doesn’t. That’s really what I’ve been doing and documenting since September, which is when I started this blog. For the most part, most everything I’ve tried has stuck and has become ingrained into my life. I’ve found that I’m left with very little time for anything else, which sucks, and I’ve found that I don’t sleep as much as I would like, which doubly sucks, and I’ve found that I always want to do more, which doesn’t suck that much until I decide to actually follow through and do more, which then sucks when it inevitably eats away at my time and sleep. Which is why I found that Josh Waitzkin quote and concept so mind-blowing. If I keep working at my habits, keep focusing them and reducing them down to their essence, I may — just may — reclaim my time and my sleep and possibly do even more than I’m doing now. Maybe one day I can quickly get started on my tasks, do consistent and high quality work at a fraction of the time, and go on with my day. I’m not sure if that’s how Josh Waitzkin describes his concept since I haven’t read his book yet, but that idea alone excites me.
I need to focus, I need to be consistent, and I need to reduce my habits and routines to their essence so I have more time to live my life as happily as possible. That’s so easy I can do it in my sleep.