By the numbers: I’ve sat down to write 6 out of the last 7 days, with a pass on Sunday. Including that big fat zeroburger, I’ve averaged 805 words/day (1000 words/day not including the zero). This is progress. It is good.
I haven’t yet been able to find a recurring time of day to write that sticks. My schedule has been such that when I write changes daily, including 445 am apparently. I need to get better at this. I end up spewing out a bunch of words in between activities. There’s a limit to what comes out, both in terms of quantity and depth. As William Faulkner famously said: “I only write when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes at nine every morning.”
I went back this week and re-read the amazing book Write Useful Books by Rob Fitzpatrick. That turned out to be a great idea. As anyone who’s tried to write something longer than a few pages, the first draft invariably sucks and it’s easy to get horrified that the crystalline vision of the idea in your head looks like someone blew chunks all over your keyboard. Rob’s book was a reminder that the purpose of a first draft is just to get everything out there so you can sort it out. I needed that on Day 3. I’ve been ignoring punctuation, flow, and just letting it spill. My inner perfectionist is faint and sweating, but I feel content to keep the knife at his throat.
Something else Rob suggested is to leverage a Table of Contents as a summary and set of key points for the reader. The most surprising thing about the process so far is how hard it has been to find the proper structure for these ideas. I’ve pulled together everything I’ve previously written around this subject (about 30,000 words) along with the primary ideas I’m aiming for and I’ve divided it up several different ways already and none of them seem right. As I’m adding more content it’s starting to coalesce a little bit more, but it’s surprising to me how difficult the “idea organization” component of this project is.
Lastly, I’ve also started building a length citations document with quotes, links and books that is already bigger than expected.
I already know this will take longer than I expect. That’s quite alright, it’s hard and fun. I’m over the initial mountain of frustration and accelerating recklessly into a valley of ambition and false optimism. There’s a veil of fog in the valley about the future of this project. We’ll see if we can’t drive hard and pierce that next.