Last week I spoke at the All Sports United Summit at NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis. It was a great time, and I got to meet several current and former athletes who have built foundations to better their communities.
Smoking cigars and talking with NFL players and Olympians was an eye opening experience.
We were very, very similar in our approaches toward work. Professions aside, we were all type As. Each of us enagaged in a different activity, they the world of competitive sports, me in the blogging and writing world.
They asked me how I write books. I said I wake up every morning at 6:00 a.m. and write or edit for an hour or two before my family rises. Some days I double up and write/edit after my family sleeps.
I asked how they train. They wake up every morning and start their workouts before most people have had their first cup of coffee. Like me and writing, these pros work out religiously. The NFL players were in their offseason. They’re still working out every day.
AllSports United Humanitarian Award Finalists Madieu WIlliams, Israel Idonije (winner), PVBLIC Director Rachel Gerrol, Jeremy Staat, and Tyrone Keys
They were all very competitive people that want to do better. The athletes wanted to have a strong next game, or a great next fundraiser. I want to take my writing to the next level with each book I write. I want every one of my clients’ campaigns to absolutely crush it.
The effort and discipline necessary to achieve repeat successes requires an iron commitment, one that will not wilt through the seasons.
What Commitment Looks Like
Steven Wright once made a joke about writing a book. He said, “I’m writing a book. I’ve got the page numbers done.”
It’s true, publishing requires going beyond thinking or saying that you are writing a book.
Many people have set out on this journey, but could not complete it. You hear the excuses all the time: “I’m too tired. I had to take a business trip. I can’t focus. It’s not perfect so I rewrote it. There isn’t enough time. I can’t.”
When I hear these things, I nod and smile, but say to myself, “No, you don’t want it bad enough.”
Because when you want something bad enough, you do it. Period. There is no sob story. The sobbing comes from the sacrifices. Let me tell you about my year so far:
- My grandfather died. I wrote or edited every day that week.
- I participated in physical therapy three or four times a week for the first five months of this year. I wrote or edited every day.
- At SxSW, I hung out with people every night. I woke up every morning and wrote or edited.
- My Dad visited to celebrate his birthday and first day of retirement. I wrote every day that weekend.
- My wife has a night off every week, she spends it with friends. I write or edit on my night off, more often than not. The same thing goes for our weekend free time.
- My friends played poker one night last April. I fell asleep so I could wake up early and write.
- My novel needs proofing at the end of the month. I punched in edits every day for the past two weeks.
- I helped Vocus throw a major conference this week. I wrote or edited every day this week.
I ALWAYS write or edit no matter what. It may only be 250-500 words a day, but I do it.
Writing requires sacrificing major components of my personal life. I have five roles/jobs during any week; father, husband, consultant, writer and self care. I get to enjoy myself at a game or a movie once a week. That’s it.
And you know what? I’m not complaining. I may not be as happy or have as much vicarious pleasure as others, but I’m doing what it takes to publish. It’s my choice.
Toils and Suffering
That choice also causes me to be somewhat less sympathetic toward authors that complain about the difficulties of writing and marketing books. Books require serious work. Everything worth doing takes hard work. Everything, not just writing books.
Colin Powell said, “A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.”
Some people expect an easy road to success, but I don’t think that’s possible.
I don’t believe in the four hour work week. Life is not always easy. Invariably, success requires suffering. You struggle. Jobs become tense. Children get sick. Fatigue plagues you. Someone dies. You have to travel.
Name your scenario. Even in the cushiest of lifestyles, we suffer. In fact, wealthier people tend to suffer more with a tendency towards misery.
First world problems, right? It’s hard to take the problems of the wealthy serious.
Regardless of physical well-being, life is not meant to be a cake walk. If it was, could we appreciate great achievements? I don’t think so. We would not be able to recognize them.
To truly love the sun, we must have the rain.
Wanting to win fuels you. You have to go through more to accomplish great things. You shut up, keep quiet, focus on what matters, choose your battles, work that extra hour. You do all of these things because you need to achieve the larger goal.
Then you fail, and you start again because you must if you want success bad enough.
So I choose to suffer.
Is there a right way to endure the pain? Increasingly for me, I rely on a few friends to ease the load, and then it’s face first into the wind.
Toil with grace as much as possible with a stiff upper lip. Sometimes you gotta break. It’s too much. Rest and recreation helps. Then you get up again, walk forward step by step, and sooner or later you finish.
Often, good times just seem to happen on their own. When you are so busy focused on the actual action — the next right thing — you don’t notice the transition from toil to spoils. It’s quite nice.
When the good times start — the gravy from all the hard work — you appreciate them even more.
You have to be grateful. Not everyone publishes four books or blogs for eight years successively. I am thankful for the people who helped me to achieve these successes.
Frankly, real life issues occur that can make it all go away in a moment. Sometimes you really want to quit, too, but if it’s who you are, well then, you do it. And that’s why the successes are so special.
You encourage friends and acquaintances when they say, “Hey, I want to write a book, too.” You tell them your personal process, and hope they succeed. More importantly, prepare them for the labor.
It’s special a thing to succeed.
There’s nothing quite like sitting down and talking with someone else who’s been through the toils. It’s like wearing a pair of glasses; you see things differently, you think about ideas and projects in a macro sense. It’s one of the benefits.
Until you’ve done what it takes to write a book, you can’t comprehend the effort or the scope. The NFL guys could say the same thing about surviving an entire season of pro football.
How do you make great successes happen?