0656 – define concrete next steps on your radar

The time is now 10:05pm on a saturday night, March 25th 2017. It’s been quite a casual, lazy day. I watched some Extra Credit videos over lunch about the Punic wars, and was surprised to learn that Hannibal, Carthage, Barcelona and Archimedes are all related. History is fascinating and I’d like to learn more about it. I also watched Trevor Noah’s standup special over dinner, and finished watching Dave Chapelle’s special (1.5x speed is a hell of a drug). I also got a bit of work done, and spent a bit of time thinking about Paramore (I want to write a word vomit memoir about them) and about principles and values.

What do I want to do with my life? I want to be a writer. Be more precise. I want to be an accomplished writer that I admire. I want to write things that I’m proud of. What would it take for me to be proud of something that I’ve written? It would have to accomplish something that hasn’t been accomplished before, at least in my estimation. But I don’t just want some mythical piece of writing in the indefinite future – I want to be the steward of a process of writing that I admire. I think that means producing a minimum volume of written work a day. I established in a previous vomit that I would have to do 3 word vomits a day in order to finish my project by July this year. That seems like an achievable goal – but I know from past experience that I have trouble even making sure that I write once every single day. So I need to be vigilant. Anyway, I’m writing now.

What will it take to continue to develop as a writer? What are the intermediate steps? Well I think one of the first things I can do is to begin publishing work over at existing publications. That’s a measurable, concrete goal. It would be cool to publish say at least 5 things on reasonably cool publications sometime this year. I can imagine publishing something on a video game blog. Something on a tamil/indian culture blog. Something on a Singaporean site. I know that most editors are happy to receive quality content. I just need to take a little initiative. So one of my next steps will be to identify places that I want to have my work published, and then accomplish that.

I might also want to do the same thing for my marketing blog. Right now (meaning today and tomorrow) I don’t feel like I have time for that. I need to publish 3 word vomits tonight for myself, and then I need to spend tomorrow catching up on work. Once I’m done with that though, I think on Monday it would be cool to spend some time in the evening working on this goal of getting published across several publications. I’ll make a list of about 20 writers that I like and want to emulate. (Created to-dos for both of these). I’ll also want to summarise what I’ve learned and achieved over the past 4 years. I’ve been putting that off for a while because it’s a little depressing to realise that I haven’t achieved nearly as much as I’d like to have achieved by now. But those are just feelings. Feelings are feelings. What matters is assessing the situation accurately and making better decisions from there. Let’s assume that it’s true that I haven’t accomplished enough in the past 4 years, what should I do? I still have all sorts of advantages and resources that I can use to get myself into a place that I want to be. I’m going to be giving a couple of marketing talks in the coming months. I’ll be paid for my trouble, which is cool. I can build on that.

I need to have a serious private conversation with myself about what exactly I want and how exactly I’m going to get it. Most of my friends and peers know that I’m a pretty decent writer and a pretty decent marketer, by virtue of exposure. But this exposure has been rather casual and almost accidental. I want to get a lot more deliberate about it. I want to be publishing material at a much more feverish pace. I want to be tidying up and editing my work at a regular pace, too. I need to be measuring my progress on that. Publishing volume can be easily measured by word count. Editing volume I think is probably best measured in terms of hours for now. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than nothing.

After I’m done with this word vomit, I’m going to go through my “become an author” category in Things and then I’m going to delete anything that doesn’t feel relevant, that doesn’t excite me. I need to strike a balance between keeping old things around, and having some space to respond to new things as they come. I can’t just respond to every single thing that comes, because then nothing substantial will get done. But I’ve also definitely been holding on to some old things long past their due – things that now feel like a frustrating burden. I can delete those things and then allow them to return to me whenever they do, naturally. I need to trust my own internal rhythms a bit more, and rework the superstructure that I’m building around myself to make myself a productive, effective writer.

At the heart of all of it will have to be a daily writing practice. I can write junk if I have to. The quality of my “junk” today is a lot better than some of my best attempts in the past. If my writing suffers in the present day, the main reason is typically lack of sleep. So I need to stop sabotaging myself and make sure that I sleep early. It’s 1026pm now. I would like to be sleeping at 11pm, worst case 12mn. I slept at 4am yesterday, which was way too late. I did get a full night’s sleep, but then woke up in the afternoon. That’s better than not sleeping enough, but I should just sleep earlier. I keep trying to have it both ways, and I need to come to a hard decision on this if I’m going to be able to take myself seriously. Am I serious about my sleep or am I not? I know that lack of sleep = cognitive impairment. I know some people who seem to be able to get away with less sleep, but I know categorically that I’m not one of them. So I need to make a decision and not pussyfoot around this. Does it matter or does it not?

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