Published: Sunday February 15, 2015.

Words about words

Back at the start of 2015 I made a decision to write some words each day. I’m rolling up the end of week six. It’s still hard, and the satisfaction I take from it varies wildly, but I’m still doing it. This is me taking direct action to make a difference in my life. It has, in a small way, changed my life. I didn’t realise that until today, though. It took a conversation with my housemate Jen over my dinner-for-one for me to piece together that it’s having a positive effect on me.

I set myself a goal to write, publish and sell a book. This is a fairly common target for a lot of people – I remember seeing it as one of the top 10 items on the now defunct 43 Things website – and I know the majority of these people will never write a book. I’ve experienced the nuts and bolts of writing a book, the somewhat opaque editing process, the to-ing-and fro-ing involved in publishing the infernal thing, and subsequent lacklustre sales reports. I’ve seen all this happen, but never done it myself.

I have a fairly pragmatic approach to what I do. There’s no real point in having a goal if it’s not being worked on. There’s no point in having an alarm set for 7am if you’re just going to snooze it and sleep for an hour. There’s no point in saying you want a healthier life if you’re still ingesting junk. I set out to write a book, and I can’t do it properly from a standing start. I didn’t figure this out until last week, as I was expecting to be able to just write a book. Not quite.

I don’t know how many words this book will have. I estimated that if I write 500 a day, did this for a year, and edited the final copy down by about 40% then I’d have a hundred thousand words that I can sell and be proud of. Six weeks into 2015, I’m now thinking that I might need another month or so before I can switch gears and start on my book.

There’s no procrastination going on. Real life is certainly slowing progress, but I can’t tune it out to get a book to the presses. Rather than focus on the book itself, I’m adapting the gains from this exercise into more positive change. I want to lose weight. If I can find time to write each day, I can find time to exercise. I want to live with less stuff. If I can sit down at a screen and scribble 500 words, I can make time to objectively assess my belongings. I want to read more. Again, it’s a time thing. These are all things I want to do, not things I’ve been asked or told to do.

If I wasn’t writing each day, I wouldn’t have pieced together the situation with the DBS paperwork. If I hadn’t written that up, I wouldn’t have figured out that directing a play would be something I wanted to do. It follows that if I had been asked to direct a junior play, I’d‘ve thought of a way to decline and carried on without that experience on my scorecard. All that, plus much more, from writing each day.

Yeah. This is changing my life.