He Wrote 800,000 Words In 2 Years – Here’s What You Can Learn
Do you find writing effortless? If so, I congratulate you because you’re one of the few. I’m also quite jealous. Sometimes I wonder if I’m the only tortured soul out there that has difficulties writing. There are so many factors. Procrastination, fear of failure, fear of success, and self – doubt to name a few.
That’s why it’s refreshing to read about Jason Zook, who recently wrote an article entitled ‘What I learned from writing over 800,000 words in 2 years’. It’s a great read, but I thought I’d summarize some of the key points that I’ve learned from this article. Hopefully, this will provide with the key obstacles, challenges and solutions you can take to improve your writing.
Stop Your Paralysis Analysis
Are you guilty of overanalyzing what you need to write? Do you spend all your on research when all you really need to do is start writing? If so, the key is to just start writing. Find a space to sit, open up your computer or notebook, and just start writing. What I love about Jason’s strategy is that he just started. He didn’t think about WHY he was going to write. He just gave it a try. Here’s what he had to say:
Whether my writing was good or bad, I stuck with it. Each day I would force myself to write at least 500 words. The funny thing that happened? Almost every single day I ended up writing 1,000 – 1,500 words.
That simple daily practice helped me find my writing voice (which will always be evolving) and helped give me confidence in my writing.
If you have a story you want to tell but can’t seem to find out how to start, just start writing. Write about anything. I was supposed to write this article about 6 hours ago. I spent 5 hours struggling to write. I went out with a few friends. Anything to avoid writing. When I came back, I shifted to something else. I got on my computer and began writing about something else. A funny thing happened. 30 minutes into it, I became motivated. Guess what? I found it easy to write this article. If I kept thinking about it, I would never have developed the momentum to get to this article.
Jason also started out with Word. He then progressed to Mac Text Editor, until he found Letterspace. The point is, he didn’t spend hours researching the best writing tools. Start writing with what you have. I have a 200 page story that was started on a pocket notebook, progressed to a ring binder and then a word document, until I finally got to using Day One for Mac. Just start.
I know it’s a cliche. But consistency is the most powerful tool you have to succeed. When I talk to other writers, we not only discuss the struggles, but the self doubt that creeps in when you start. You may be working on an 80,000 word novel. When you’re starting out, that sounds like a big number. You may feel overwhelmed. I know I do. One of the best ways to overcome this is to be consistent. Jason describes how he overcame this self doubt:
Because of my daily writing intention, the pressure to write something amazing quickly deteriorated. Early on I’d sit down and think, “Okay Jason, you have a Pulitzer Prize caliber article in you, just let it out!” Then I figured out that I didn’t give a crap if my writing ever won awards or read as professional writing; I just had to stick to my daily goal.
It couldn’t have been more than a couple weeks writing every day when almost all the self-doubt about how good my writing was disappeared. It wasn’t that I suddenly gained confidence in my writing. (Or that it was any good.) Not even close. It was that I knew I would be sitting in the chair every day, so why worry about today’s writing when I’m just going to have to write something again tomorrow?
Once I got over the hump of self-doubt, each day’s writing became an achievable task. I simply wrote about a topic until I couldn’t write about it anymore
What should stick out to you is the fact that it took him a couple of weeks to get over the self doubt. I find that it usually takes me anywhere from 4 to 8 weeks to get comfortable and in the groove with anything I do.
The first few weeks? They’re filled with struggles. I literally get headaches during the first few weeks. Heart palpitations are common. Frustration sets him. Self-doubt is the driving force. That’s going to happen. That’s what it takes to overcome obstacles in anything we do in life. Learn to accept that. Be consistent with your writing. Every day. Push through those barriers and pain, and you’ll come out on the other side with a bigger appreciation of your craft.