Reflections on Writing... A Book

“Just do your best
It's the only way to keep that last bit of sanity
Maybe I don't have to be good but I can try to be
At least a little better than I've been so far”
-    The Avett Brothers "When I Drink"

“The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.” – Proverbs 13:4

Throughout our lives we develop habits. These habits can be positive, such as exercising regularly or praying every morning (but of course, not in a legalistic way). However, some habits can be negative, such as constantly worrying or eating junk food every day. I certainly have good and bad habits, but often we have a desire to do something but have never developed the habit.

I miss typewriters...

I miss typewriters...

When I met Donald Miller after the Storyline Conference in Nashville, in October, I asked him for tips on how to finish my first book (which right now consists of 25 pages of random essays about my infertility journey). His advice included waking up 1-2 hours early every morning to write the book. But he was also very clear; he said, “Do not blog.” My immediate thought was can’t I do both: write a book and blog? How can I not blog, people will forget who I am by the time I try to get a book out for the public to see? But then I realized he was wise enough (you know, after writing a half dozen books or so) to know that if you are going to sit down and write a book, that needs to be your main focus, and you need to develop the habit of writing every day so that you can complete it.

My entire life I’ve dreamed of writing a book (or two or three). I honestly don’t care if anyone besides my parents read it. I have my own reasons for wanting to do what millions of people before me have done: 

  1. I have ideas, so many ideas, that I would love to research and write about
  2. It brings me joy to find information and share it with others
  3. I have a voice, opinions, experiences, that I want to preserve and put down on paper so it survives past my lifetime
  4. I think it’s amazing if even one person reads about my story and can relate and glean something from it that can help them in their situation
  5. I love the idea of setting a goal and achieving it, because I have had a tendency to quit things in the past. My biggest accomplishment was achieving my Masters degree. I was committed to the program and never gave up. I learned so much by establishing new study habits and continually stepping outside my comfort zone.
  6. I just love books… a lot.
  7. Most importantly, I love writing – when I actually write. My husband makes fun of me because, when motivated, I can sit down and write a 2000 word blog in no time. So writing a book will allow me to hedge his advice of being more concise… I can write all I want. The hard part will be bringing it all together into a cohesive piece that makes some semblance of sense and can speak to an audience other than myself.

My dogs woke me up at 4am this morning and wouldn’t go back to sleep, so I finally got out of bed at 5am. They’ve been doing this for weeks now. I honestly believe (feel free to make fun of me here), that this is a sign that I should heed Miller’s advice and wake up at 5am every morning to finish my book. I recognize the irony of blogging about doing it first… I mean I could have just woken up and continued working on my book, but I think I had to write this post to realize I what I really need to focus on.

So moving forward, I will be diligent in creating the appropriate habits that will help me reach my goal of finishing my book, even if it means blogging less. At the beginning of the year, I told myself I wanted a draft done by the end of 2013. I think I’m being realistic when I say that’s not likely to happen, but at the same time I want to be aggressive with my time frame so I have a defined boundaries to work in. Plus I have another book I’m super excited about that I wanted to start next year. But one thing at a time, I suppose... It's like driving a bus, before you've even learned to drive a car.

My first step is to review a document written by Toni Partingon, poet and co-founder of Printed Matter in Vancouver, WA, (and my brother, Christopher Luna's, fiancé) about how to create space for writing in your life. I’m hoping this will provide me with information such as how to set up a comfortable physical space that has all the tools I need to write so there is little to no distraction. 

Small habits over time create who we are, our innate being, and can bring us towards our goal or keep us from ever reaching it. But until the healthy habits are fully established in our every day routine, that goal is still just a dream written on a piece of notepaper, collecting dust in the drawer. Time to clean out the drawer…  and assist the notepaper in flourishing into the aspired manuscript. 

What is your dream? What habits do you need to lose/gain in order to make your dream a reachable goal?