How to write a book in 30 minutes
Forward this newsletter to a friend who can relate!
I recently finished the third draft of a book, which means I’ve spent the last year revising, rereading, restructuring, and regretting. (JK.) (But also not.)
You know the mortification you feel when listening to a recording of your own voice? Reading work you first wrote three years ago, back when you had a different job, different priorities, a different president, is a similar experience. Needless to say, it’s been a relief to put the draft aside in favor of something new, and a writing streak seemed like the perfect way to celebrate.
As of today, my streak is 14 days old. Almost every morning for the last two weeks, I’ve gotten up at 5:30, poured myself a cup of coffee, and spent at least 30 minutes in front of an open Word document. Most of that time was spent writing, but not all of it. Sometimes I gazed out my window and watched as the sky tipped toward morning. Other times I stared at a sentence and tried to figure out if it needed a comma or an em dash. (Spoiler alert - the answer is always an em dash.) This - the gazing, the staring, the dashing - absolutely counts toward the streak, because writing isn’t just typing. What it looks like on any given day depends on where you are in the process.
This is one of the reasons I like to measure my streak by time, rather than output. 500 words, two pages, a single good sentence - these goals may work for some people, but not for me. For me, the act of showing up and sitting down, of stepping into and spending time with the story, is what matters. It keeps me acquainted with and connected to the creative process, makes it easier to remember my rhythms, recognize my voice.
My previous writing streak lasted 62 days and covered most of my post-Florence displacement. While we were couch-surfing and living in a hotel, watching from a distance as our house was rebuilt, the ability to return each morning to familiar ground - in this case, the draft - felt like a kind of homecoming.
For now, the draft is done. We’re settled back in our house, complete with new roof and fresh walls. For the first time in a long time, there is space and freedom to build something new.
So tomorrow morning I’ll get up at 5:30, pour a cup of coffee, and sit at my desk. The sun will rise slowly, bruising the horizon. And I’ll pick up the thread where I left it, follow the story until its end. Build a strong foundation and see what I can raise.
The Write Stuff
How to Finish, Catapult. "The books we write will be lesser versions of the books that live inside our heads. Please mourn this quickly."
Does "Creative" Work Free You From Drudgery, Or Just Security? New York Times. If you followed the Caroline Calloway drama a few weeks ago (🙋🏻♀️), you'll love this article. It starts out discussing Instagram, and then spirals into gems like this: "Humans derive meaning and pleasure from making stuff. To engage in even the smallest acts of creation — molding a clay bowl in our hands or shaping an idea in our minds — is to perform a conjuring trick, to experience the mysterious and sublime power of bringing a new thing into existence." I MEAN, COME ON.
Here's What It's Really Like to be an Internet Advice Columnist, BuzzFeed. I've never met an advice column I didn't immediately drop everything to read. This piece is basically Chrissy catnip.
Snack of the Week
Let's face it - no meal is complete without dessert, and these Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups are the perfect way to reward yourself for yet another sensible, well-balanced meal. This Valentine's Day, I recommend heading to Trader Joe's and treating yourself to a deliciously decadent container and a cute succulent. Sharing with others is, as always, optional.
A Tiny Challenge
My February goal is to write and mail one card or letter every day. This week, send some snail mail to a friend you miss. For the price of a 55 cent stamp, you're guaranteed to make their day. 💌
Until next week!
PS: Did you like this email? Please consider forwarding it to a friend!
PPS: Did a friend forward you this email? Join the party and sign up! 👇🏼