Just Show Up
What seems like the fast way in the moment is the long way in the end.
— Via the Sunday Brainfood Newsletter from Farnam Street
Just Show Up
Several months ago, I decided to try writing one short story a day for 100 days. The idea was not to generate good stories, but just to get into a daily habit of writing short stories from start to finish. I needed a practice to help me get out of my own way.
Most days I wrote for about a half hour to an hour, but some days, I only had a few minutes in me to put together a story. It didn’t matter, what mattered was that I showed up and that the story had some kind of beginning, middle and end.
Here’s what I learned.
First, I learned that I could do it. I developed a sense of confidence and pride as I saw my library of little stories grow. It turned out not to be that hard to sit down and pull together something that had a vaguely story like shape in a relatively short amount of time.
Second, I learned that by letting go of trying to be good, I would more often than not, find myself in a flow. Once I could just write and immerse myself in the world of the story, I often discovered that quite a few interesting ideas and even some decent drafts emerged.
Finally, I learned that it was fun. It was a delight to see these surprise ideas coming from places I wouldn’t have thought of had I sat down to write something “good”. I often found myself going in directions I never would have thought to take, had I outlined or plotted things in advance.
While I am no longer writing a short story every day, I have kept up the practice of showing up daily for a bit of writing time. And while each day might feel very much like the same, as time goes on, I’m seeing how my work is changing and growing. Whether it’s working on a short article like this, a short story or comic, the daily habit has been the foundation of many of my personal projects.
Cool and useful things by other people.
Shut Up and Write
If you want some accountability showing up daily, I’ve found the Shut Up and Write community to be a great way to stay motivated. Just sitting with other writers and working has an effect of making the often difficult task of creative work that much more enjoyable. It’s been a huge help for me in maintaining my daily creative habit day after day for the last few years.
An outrageously skilled illustrator with a delightful sensibility.
Give her a follow!