I’ve been reading several books lately on the art of writing:
Here are4 I’ve actually completed:
Currently, I’m reading this:
And when this is done hopefully I’ll get back to this:
That’ll make it 6 books on the art of writing, whether fiction or nonfiction.
It’s been interesting listening to around 15 hours of audiobook content all dedicated to the art of writing more effectively.
I’ve not actually read anything (until now) about the art of writing and how to write more effectively.
About 45 minutes ago I just put down ‘The Artist’s Journey by Stephen Pressfield and there was a particular sentence I guess that gave me the inspiration to write this itself (to paraphrase):
‘I’ve written 20 books now, and I’ve never actually known what I’m going to write until I start writing, and then the muse takes over’.
And then this relates to what every author on the art of writing (as well as my writing coach Chris) seems to enunciate.
You can read all you like – just f*cking make sure that you write every damn day.
In this regard recently, I’ve been doing pretty badly. Since I finished the first draft of my novel The Death Of Richard Finkford – I kind of lost my mojo.
Given it’s 741am and here I am pecking away – I hope that I’m starting to get it back again.
Of course, relying upon ‘mojo’ to get into the mode of writing is a fool’s errand.
Pressfield talks about in the “War of Art’ how a professional writer makes sure that he writes come hell or high water. That he writes every day.
No matter how terrible the script, prose, or content is –
You must write.
I suppose that’s why this morning whilst taking notes from ‘The Artists Journey’ here’s something I scrawled down:
I was at one stage writing 2,200 words a day for around 30 days straight more or less. What’s nuts about that is that within 6 weeks I was able to push out an entire first draft of a novel.
Now I’m struggling to put in 500 words into this blog.
Chris tells me it’s phenomenal I can even do 500 so easily every day.
(I disagree – naturally).
So anyway, all of this got me thinking about the quarter of a million words (maybe more) that I’ve written since October last year – months before I’d met Chris, these books or even got more ‘serious’ about my writing.
It’s been around a year now that I’ve been writing consistently and it’s been so interesting to see my ‘writing muscle’ (if you will) develop in real time.
I remember sitting in a cafe for several hours over the winter of 2019 and being proud of being able to put together perhaps 1,000 words. I mean a 2-3 hour period of writing.
I did this religiously for around 2-weeks whilst Daniela was in Italy with her family.
A year later and I can now knock out 2,200 words in an hour sometimes.
I am unsure as to whether I’ll get much faster than that.
I think to make that happen I need to learn to touch type – which I’ll add to my to-do list.
The speed up in my writing speed has happened almost accidentally.
What I also remember is that I would leave exhausted for the day – like I had nothing else left within me back in December of 2019. Now it has become an ordinary part of my day.
And as it is now (7.04 am the day after I started this post) –
It has become part of a morning routine that consists of reading and writing to start.
Before this, I spent 38 minutes (at 2x speed so 76 minutes of listening time) listening to ‘Never Split The Difference’ by Chriss Voss and ‘Natives’ by Akala.
I love reading more than I love writing.
One feeds the other, and then I love to run sprints each time I get into a project until the point I get to being exhausted or bored.
That’s why I’ve written this newsletter in fits and starts.
I’ll have a good 5/7/12 day run and then come back to it some weeks/months later because I got tired of it then.
I think the difference now – is that I’ve found a way to bring my natural rhythm into harmony.
I’ll jump between these newsletters, my website blog as well as novel writing – and the variation keeps me interested.
It waxes, it wanes….
But I am still here.
It makes me thoughtful.
It makes me realise that the art of this process is what James Clear talks about in Atomic Habits – that to become world-class, you just need to operate in the same manner as someone who is world iclass does – and do so every day.
Crudely, given I love to write.
That art is then writing.
So I’m writing….more often than not…every day?
Or at least several times a week.
Late nights and drinking can often kill my writing.
The other element in this journey of writing over 250,000 words, is aiming for quantity over quality.
I just turn up and aim to hit a word count.
It seems that through the mere act of repetition – that this quantity leads to quality.
I mean, with each piece of feedback I get – I learn. Through the act of writing and writing and writing and writing – I improve.
And now I read books, I hire coaches and it’s fascinating to see the mountain above me unfold, alongside seeing the hill upon which I stand grow tall.
I’m vaguely aware that I’ve elevated myself beyond the position of a part-time blogger.
Or have I?
The other thing I recognise within myself – is that any ill-conceived attempt to laud over myself (like I’m wretchedly attempting to now) and my achievements are immediately slapped down by my super ego.
How dare you have the gall to consider yourself anything other than a hack.
I’ll leave any compliments (if there are any) to others.
I guess this blog, as the last few have been recent, is more of a musing to myself.
So if you grow tired or bored of today’s ramblings then I understand, bid you adieu and wish you well.
To bring me back down to earth – or to help you appreciate where I am – this is me now:
Fully engaged I guess in my act of mental masturbation, of self-titillation.
I’m looking at that number of 250,000 words and I’m smiling at myself and feeling proud.
And the hack is the appropriate word in many ways.
I’m sitting here in my shorts (oddly enough) and my hoodie bashing away – and I don’t think I’ll ever change my style even if my finances change.
There’s something about considering myself a hack, an amateur (as I so objectively am having never had a bestseller or even published) that keeps me hungry, that keeps me determined.
I’m working with Chris now to change that of course.
And I’m excited to see the journey unfold over the next year.
Last year I started with no content online.
- Today I have 59 blog posts all written by me over here: https://www.deepakshukla.com/blog/
- I have the first draft of my 72,000-word novel ‘The Death of Richard Finkford’
- The rough opening (12,000 words) exists of (a novella?) ‘Fight The Good Fight
- And then there is this newsletter some 80 parts long and in excess of 100,00 words.
- There is my Quora account with 512 answers and 130,000 views
- And now of course there lies my journey on Medium
I never anticipated any of this time last year.
I walked into this blind, but now I feel like more than ever I can see. And I see how deep the rabbit hole goes.
I thank Chris, and even more so I think Mrs Proud and my mother.
I remember at 14 years my English literature teacher brought my mother into school to tell her ‘your son is gifted, and I should do all my literary exams 2 years early’.
She taught me to recognise I have some kind of gift, however spasmodically it appears and how spastically it comes out from me
I remember my mother being unimpressed and responding with ‘well why doesn’t he listen to anything at home then?’.
She taught me pain and with that a hardness, that I feel one must have to just write, write and write.
And now I thank Chris. It’s what you read about write in all of those books on narrative devices and the ‘hero complex’ – whether you’re reading ‘Story Brand’, ‘Save The Cat’, the teachings of Jung or ‘Nobody Reads Your Shit’
Chris is my Yoda, my Morpheus, my Jor-El.
He is my guide in the terrifying vast landscape of the written plains.
And I am the hero in my own story.
As I hope to be your guide in yours.