Back. . .and with a book!

I know it’s been a long time, but I have been busy chasing the dream, I promise.

While I am still in the process of switching fields from PR to something more writing-intensive, I have taken these last five months to write my first book- How To Get A Job In Sports PR. It will be available digitally on January 3rd for a wide variety of e-readers on Amazon, B&N, and Smashwords.

Also in my time ‘off’, I revamped the blog by putting it on its own dedicated site. All of the “Most Important Things I’ve Learned” have been transferred over, as those will still be the centerpiece of my writing.

The Becoming Awesome Reviews are no more, as ultimately they felt contrived and I simply didn’t enjoy doing them. There will also be no set posting schedule this time around, although I imagine that with my recent productivity habits there will be anywhere from 5-10 posts every month.

This domain will now also serve as a pseudo-portfolio for potential employers to see examples of my writing (and hopefully my creative initiative). Up already are some work samples from previous jobs and occasionally I will post other writings from the past that I have dug up and want to share.

So, if you’re a friend who dutifully read my other blog, thanks for returning! And if you are a new reader, welcome!

I truly hope you enjoy reading these posts even half as much as I enjoy writing them.

I’m going to make a lot of crap

Up until I was about 22, I had paralysis.

No, (thankfully) not paralysis of my legs or any other appendage, but of my mind. Specifically, the creative side of it.

Ever since I was little, people had complimented my writing. Like how others are born with the ability to draw, sing, or dance well, writing came naturally to me.

Through my bashful humbleness, I always brushed these comments off as people just being nice, thinking to myself something along the lines of, “sure, maybe I can write better than Joe Shmoe classmate, but I could never be a sports columnist or fiction author. . .those people are in a whole other league, they have ‘it’. . .I am just me.”

I had planned and pursued grand writing endeavors before. This is actually around the third or fourth blog attempt (and at three months, the longest lasting) that I’ve made. Other past failures include several short stories and fiction books, as well as a column I planned to turn into an e-newsletter.

As soon as I hit any sort of wall in these projects, I was done- I quickly accepted my defeat without any sort of fight. I did this for many, many years. “It wasn’t meant to be”, I would think.

The big difference now in my attitude is that I enjoy the process– I like that I am no longer attempting to produce a polished final draft on my first attempt. I like that what I spit out on my first go is often utter crap. And I love that I get to scrap, mutate, and edit the hell out of the original piece until it is something I am proud of. And even then, it may not necessarily be considered “good” in the grand scheme of things, only in comparison into what it was a few hours prior.

Which led to a major epiphany. . . all creative people, all people who produce great work, have a produced a ton of crap. It’s a numbers game. Nobody bats 1.000. The larger volume of work you produce, the higher your odds are of breaking through that threshold and producing an amazing work. I’ll let Ira Glass say the rest:

 

It’s easy to look at people who have ‘made it’ already and think they just had ‘it’ from the get go. Rarely do we get to see the mounding pile of drafts crumpled up in their trashcans, all the missed free throws, or the sketches with giant X’s scrawled through them.

I recently read the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. In it, he cites another book that argues that Mozart wasn’t actually a child prodigy, but more a product of his environment and of consistent practice.

Wolfgang started writing music at age 6. While this is certainly an unusual and advanced hobby for a child of any age, the quality of these early works tends to get blown out of proportion:

“by the standards of mature composers, [his] early works are not outstanding. The earliest pieces were all probably written down by his father, and perhaps improved in the process. Many of Wolfgang’s childhood compositions, such as the first seven of his concertos for piano and orchestra, are largely arrangements of works by other composers. Of those concertos that only contain music original to Mozart, the earliest that is now regarded as a masterwork (No. 9, K. 2) was not composed until he was twenty-one: by that time Mozart had already been composing concertos for ten years.” –Michael Howe in Genius Explained

If Mozart of all people didn’t produce anything widely considered “great” (without the help of his dad) until he had been at it for over 10 years, it’s only fair that I extend to myself that, “hey. . .I’m going to make a lot of sub-par crap for a while before my work gets where I want it to be.”

Producing bad work is a great sign- as some crap is better than no crap, right?

Just start, then enjoy the process

Before I sit down to write anything, I get nervous.

In fact, before I start anything for the first time, I get nervous. This includes a CrossFit workout, a conversation with a stranger, or writing about something I’ve never written on before (ala this entry). At times, it may take me an hour or more to work up the courage just to sit down to (or physically approach) the task at hand.

The key for me has become knowing in the back of my mind that once I do start, I get to reap the reward of enjoying the process.

When I used to write, I was in the habit of writing a sentence or two, then going back and editing those lines until they were ‘perfect’. This was not only inefficient, but my seemingly perfect sentences then didn’t allow for anything but equally perfect lines to follow. Not surprisingly, this got me nowhere except for feeling defeated as I would have half a paragraph for every half hour of work.

The thing with writing is, you never know whether your sentences are perfect until there is an entire body of work surrounding them. They need context- and that goes for any project.

Once I just plow ahead in my writing and get as many of my dis-organized and seemingly unrelated ideas down on paper (or screen), that’s where the fun begins for me. I get to cut words, simplify thoughts, make my ending my lead, and watch the whole thing evolve into a polished work that I am proud of right before my eyes.

Take this blog for instance. In the past few months, my mind had constructed a whole list of reasons (excuses) on why I shouldn’t just register a Blogger account and start cranking out posts. These were, among many others:

  1. I’m not original enough- my writing would just sound like a cheap re-hash of all of my favorite authors and bloggers
  2. I’ve tried blogging on repeated occasions and failed to stay with it every time
  3. I’m just a 23-year old intern who‘s never had a “real“ job, nobody wants to read what I have to say nor do I actuallly know anything about the “real” world yet
  4. I need to get a non-blogspot or WordPress domain before I start if I want this to go somewhere, and I don’t know anything about web design

While I didn’t believe any of these to be genuinely good reasons for inaction, they certainly gave me enough incentive to do other things that I convinced myself were productive, such as reading everyone else’s life stories instead of writing my own.

Again, this concept applies to much more than just writing. Art, music, fitness, learning in general…the true joy in activities is not always in seeing the final product, it’s being there for the phases beforehand.

The hardest part is always the beginning. And the most exciting and rewarding parts of the process almost always follow immediately after.

Often we get so focused on the desired result which seems so very, very far away, that we become so crippled by self-doubt that we neglect to do the easiest thing we can do- just sit down and start.

What have you been putting off in just starting lately?