Monday, June 30, 2014

Live. Achieve. Repeat.

Write. Finish. Repeat.

It's the most simple writing advice you'll find, and perhaps the most profound. It changed my course as a writer, and it just might change my course in life.

Here's what I mean. A common theme of this blog is momentum. You discover the end of your story by writing continually until it's finished. Work ethic beats inspiration nearly every time. Keep moving forward. I blog about that idea frequently, and to a lesser extent, I practice it in my own writing. Because, "life."

Life gets in the way of everything, including living your life. You name it, the issues are there. Drowning in the massive amounts of hours worked. Fighting a lingering illness, and the illness cheats. Reeling from an unexpected loss. Finally, FINALLY, breaking down and buying that 6th book in the Hitchhiker's Trilogy and discovering you were right- it's nowhere near as good as the stuff written by Douglas Adams.

All that can get in the way. If you're not careful, it can get in the way of far more than just writing.

It occurred to me this weekend that life is as much about momentum as writing.

Write, finish, repeat? Yes. Apply the same principles to life and what do you get?

Live. Achieve. Repeat.

Repeatedly, Neil Gaiman has told aspiring writers, "You must write." Too many get this part wrong. I've even had people argue with me over this point. The truth is, if you never write, you never write.

And if you don't live, well that's even worse, isn't it? Admittedly, "live" has several connotations. Here's what I mean by it.

Live to the max each day. This is not simply about enjoying life. It means making positive steps in your life. What's important to you in your life? Writing, family, friends, Doctor Who, church, health? Make sure you're making a positive step in one of those areas, minimum, each day. Most days you'll be able to make positive steps in multiple areas. And you know what you're doing? Living.

Neil also said, "You must finish what you write." This, more than anything changed the way I looked at my craft. I finished lots of stories, and I got better with each one. Hmm. In retrospect, I've kind of moved away from finishing everything I start to write. Guess what the end result has been? I haven't written nearly as many stories since I stopped focusing on that. That's a good reminder.

In life, focusing on achieving has the same effect. Take health. I've written about fitness a few times here, because it's one of those areas I had to focus on. Doctor's orders. And you know what I couldn't do? I couldn't do it all at once.

So, I focused on daily achievements. Regular workouts. Reducing sugar intake. Blah, blah, blah. Once I finally accepted the need, I had mini achievements each day. So far they've added up to 40 pounds of weight loss, with adding muscle definition.

It's so easy to just give up. This can come after a great accomplishment, or a painful setback. Both circumstances can make a person sit back- the former to enjoy and the latter to wallow.

But you know what? If we focus on moving forward in life, becoming better at what we do and who we are, we'll achieve far more.

Writing's worth it. So is living.

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