A letter to myself about routine

“The most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying.” 

–Steven Pressfield

Dear Andrew,

Without realizing it, you have become a massive hypocrite.

You have sworn off and lambasted, to anyone that will listen, something that has allowed you to achieve things that you are incredibly proud of, something you owe a great deal to: routine.

With your nose in the air, you assert your adverseness to the norm by reciting such truisms as “Routine is the enemy” and “Comfort breeds weakness”.

You have bragged everywhere from cover letters to casual conversation that you have an ‘addiction to change’ and that you could “realistically live some place new every six months.”

But only through routine and being (mostly) in one spot geographically have you been able to devote a small chunk of time every day the past 18 months to writing. Only this has allowed you to self-publish two books so quickly and turn this blog into something you are proud to share.

Everytime you do travel, even if it’s just a few days, you always end up missing routine. Admit it. Your brain starts to crave that morning solitude and complete immersion in your projects.

Do you think you’ll get that on a six month backpacking trek across Europe living out of hostels? Unlikely. Do you think once the novelty of foreign lands wears off you’ll be itching to ground yourself in one spot and get some work done? Most definitely.

It’s ok to have a base. It’s ok to have roots. And it’s ok to call a place home for an indefinite amount of time. It’s not selling out, it’s investing in yourself.

Yes, there is tremendous value in travelling and pursuing new experiences. Living in new places and experiencing different ways of life is indeed a great way to gain perspective. However, while that all may mold and teach us plenty, what we do in our daily routine creates that foundation we get to sculpt.

These constantly shifting variables and ADD living are the enemy of routine. While there might be a kind of glamour in the ‘wayfaring writer’ penning the Great American Novel in a rail car, this is not how you work best. You traveled quite a bit last year, and while planes and hotels seem like the perfect place to get serious work done, that’s not what happens. Maybe for some people, but not you. 

Part of this animosity comes from having written off (unfairly) what a routine exactly is.

Think about fitness, specifically CrossFit, whose principals of incremental change and highly-focused (yet brief) intervals you have applied to other areas of your life. While the workouts change every day, CrossFit is a perfect example of how routine need not be repetitive and mindless. To get good at the activity, one must still apply themselves consistently and frequently—aka they must apply themselves with routine. A deliberate, defined, and constantly-varied routine, but one nonetheless. 

So stop sullying routine’s good name. It is not the enemy, but a powerful partner whose relationship with should be nurtured to the fullest.

Just do the work and enjoy where you are. The world will be always be there, and as the fruit of your labor now, you will have it someday soon.  

Yours,
Me

Thank you.

“Writers tend to be so paranoid about talking about their work because no one, including us, really understands how it works.”

-Anne Lamott

A Confidence Carol has been out a week, and while there were some high stress moments leading up to release day, overall I am incredibly pleased with the launch.

I was going to do a “XX Things I’ve Learned From Writing Two Books” post, and while I am sure it would be enthralling to read about how I didn’t (and barely do now) have any idea how a semi-colon works, everything I could come up with pales in comparison to the most important thing I learned:

I have awesome people in my life.

Anyone that’s ever written (or done any kind of art) seriously can tell you how frightening it is to put your work out to be judged for the first time. You are at the mercy of the masses, and perhaps the only thing worse than a poor review is your hard work simply being ignored.

Writing is an extremely personal and internal act, and letting a piece of work that you toiled over, for months on end, out of your grasp has to feel a little like seeing your first child go off to college. All that you have helped cultivate and grow is now on its own, completely out of your control.

I admittedly had a minor breakdown in the coffee shop I was inhabiting last Monday in the hours following the book going live. Rationally, I knew not to expect much response other than some Facebook likes, but because I had been building up to hitting that submit button on Amazon for so long, I wanted immediate gratification. I wanted 1,000 copies sold the first hour, my name to rise to the top of the Kindle Charts, to see my cover on the front page of reddit…I wanted to go viral.

And while none of that happened (yet), something just as good did.

People that I knew, and had actual, real relationships with started to send me texts and messages. Messages saying that they bought my book, that they were excited to read it, that they were proud of me.

The fact that friends and family of varying degrees had voluntarily given me their time and hard-earned money for something that I wrote in Word over the past few months boggled my mind and made me extremely thankful, a feeling that no amount of sales to strangers would have given me.

Among many acts that left me flattered to the utmost in the past week, I had:

  • two friends write good reviews (unsolicited) on the book’s Amazon page
  • a friend I hadn’t talked to in over a year text me about how much he was enjoying the story and how it had made him think about his life
  • multiple people at my gym excitedly tell me that they are reading the book
  • my brother time the posting of my headshots on his blog with ACC‘s release
  • a high school classmate saying she convinced three of her friends to buy
  • one of my favorite Twitter follows tweet my book to her 400,000+ followers (also unsolicited and I still have no idea how she found it in the first place)
  • countless people selflessly share the Facebook status announcing the book’s release
  • a friend offer to introduce me to her brother, who is an established playwright
  • another friend offer to promo the book on his platform that is much more established than mine

It all gives me a feeling that is difficult to put into words. Writing can feel very lonesome at times, but this past week I felt as if I had an entire team of publicists behind me.  Moreso, it reassures me that I am going down the correct path for myself, and that I can make this dream a reality.

Of course I want to make money writing, and of course I would love my work to go viral. I’d be flat-out lying if I said otherwise. But you have to learn to crawl before you can walk, and having my friends and family support my work is like having the best team of teachers to lean on in the world.

So thank you, readers. This project was one of the more exhausting experiences of my life, but after all is said and done I can easily say it was one of the more rewarding as well. I can’t wait to start the next book, and I hope you will enjoy it even more.

Thanks again and happy holidays.

-Andrew

A Confidence Carol—Out Today!

I am ecstatic to announce that my new book, A Confidence Carol, is now available on Amazon for Kindle. Click here to purchase and I hope you enjoy!

Don’t have a Kindle? Download a free Kindle reader for your computer, smartphone, or tablet. Don’t like those options? Send me a screenshot of an Amazon receipt and I’ll send you the PDF.

This project has simultaneously been one of the most educational and exhausting experiences of my life, and I have plenty of ideas for follow-up posts pertaining to its creation and the creative process in general. 2014 is going to be a big year for me, and in addition to generating a steady slew of new and awesome content, the site is going to be getting yet one more re-design. A sneak peek:

newsite
But for now, thank you all for your support and eyeballs, enjoy the book and be sure to let me know what you think!

Download Chapter One of A Confidence Carol for Free! [Update: Full release on 12/16/13!]

As promised, the first chapter of A Confidence Carol is now available for free and for one week only (PDF only for the single chapter, apologies).  Enjoy!

[The week is up, but check back Monday, December 16th for the full release on Amazon!]

As you’ll see, I wanted to do more than just make a contemporary retelling of A Christmas Carol. Being a huge fan of the classic, I wanted to pay homage to it by preserving a lot of the style and more signature lines from the Dickens version. The result I think is very unique, and I would liken it to being more of a literary remix than just a modern day face-lift.

And I am sure I am breaking Product Launching 101, but the exact release date for the entire book is not yet set in stone (getting to make my own timeline is both a small curse and a blessing of independent publishing). If I were a betting man, I would expect it to be on Amazon sometime during the second week of December. Unless of course I decide that Ethan would be so much cooler as a hypochondriac with a Cajun accent and I end up having to rewrite a large portion of the text.

No matter when it lands, I will post an update here and on social media as soon as I figure that out. Be sure to subscribe so that you aren’t having to check back incessantly and distort my page views (and self-esteem).

What did you think of the first chapter? 

A Confidence Carol: The Official Cover

I am thrilled to announce that the cover for my new book, A Confidence Carol, has been finalized, and I am absolutely in love with it:

FINAL

A massive thank you goes out to my designer and one of my best friends since 5th grade, Jacob Fox, for doing the design again. Like the cover for my first book, I think it captures the tone of my story perfectly.

This design is obviously completely different than the mock-up I posted at the beginning of the month. We admittedly tried to pay too much homage to A Christmas Carol at first with the chains, holly, and other holiday effects, which might have made the book appear more niche than it really is. Many that I showed the first round of concepts to also said that it felt too negative for a coming-of-age story with a [spoiler alert] happy ending.

Jake also had the suggestion to change the title to a novella, the definition of which fits my story to a T. Per Wikipedia:

The novella is generally not as formally experimental as the long story and the novel can be, and it usually lacks the subplots and the multiple points of view that are common in the novel. It is most often concerned with personal and emotional development rather than with the larger social sphere. The novella generally retains something of the unity of impression that is a hallmark of the short story, but it also contains more highly developed characterization and more luxuriant description.

And since the story weighs in at just under 30,000 words and is a fairly quick read, I am also hoping from a marketing standpoint that the word Novella will invite more potential readers that might be afraid of the ‘commitment’ required of reading a longer story to purchase it.

What do you think of the new cover?

Also, a reminder that the first chapter will be available to download for free this Friday, November 29th!