There are countless posts online about writing habits. When I’m deeply entrenched in writer’s block or locked up in a procrastination two-step, I find myself searching those posts for inspiration, grasping for an “Aha!” moment that will finally make things click.
Unfortunately, I haven’t found anything that makes writing and being productive easy. I keep finding that productivity, and often success, is nothing more than a choice to show up and make an effort.
During one of my searches, I found this video about productivity, which I thought was very helpful. This little mini-lesson from Brian Johnson’s Philosopher’s Notes is called 50 lbs for an A and it actually changed the way I think about writing.
“Ideas about creating something perfect are not going to get you there. Engage with life and churn, be in the game, getting a little bit better and optimizing again and again.”
I am a big time perfectionist and have struggled with that kind of thinking for years. This 50 lbs concept really resonated with me. You all have probably seen the thousands of quotes about making habits of writing. Probably not surprisingly, most of these involve just showing up – starting somewhere and building from it.
I remember when I was growing up, my Dad would often tell me that it takes 10,000 hours to become a master at something. He usually gave the example of The Beatles. Before they became famous, they played in a Strip Club in Germany day in and day out until they mastered their music. He still reminds me about this 10,000 hour idea when I get discouraged and my perfectionistic thinking becomes kind of relentless.
So for myself, I have set a 500 word daily quota for writing. Really, that’s a good bit of writing and usually doesn’t take me more than 30 minutes. Some days are harder than others. I did slack a good bit over Christmas, but I kept my Evernote app close by for writing down prompts and ideas. This morning I have already started a piece that I was initially excited about, but now hate. Once I get some coffee in me, I will try again.
So, to quote Brian Johnson, just show up and get a little better day in and day out.
How do you write? How do you work?