This past Saturday, I ran the Mount Mitchell Challenge, an epic run that stretched from Black Mountain to the top of Mount Mitchell, the highest point east of the Mississippi. I ran better than I expected, finishing the 36 mile course in 6 hours, 37 minutes. But race day was just the finishing touch on what had been a 4 month training cycle, and where the race was really run.
In our light-speed society, everything being done faster and more efficiently than ever, our default setting has been geared to look for the quickest solution with the minimal amount of effort. The 4 Hour Work Week and One Minute Manager are best-sellers, and on the running side, CrossFit Endurance preaches results with a fraction of the running mileage. For bloggers, Derek Halpern stated that most bloggers fail because they spend all their time writing!
Allow me to disagree (and agree later on).
There is no substitute for doing the work. Repeat with me.
“Do the Work”
There is no way around this. You have to practice running to be a runner. You must write to be a writer. You must be a part of a business in order to know the ups and downs of running a business.
If I’m going out to run 36 miles, I should have run regularly, and pretty far to be used to the distance and pace. I may have been able to survive the distance, but the experience would have been terrible. I learned that truth last year when I ran with only 6 weeks training. I needed to run, and be consistent.
In my writing, I’m tempted to write less and promote more, but usually that simply leads to writing less and promoting the same. I fear Derek’s blog post leads people to think they can work less and gain more followers or generate more sales. But that’s not his point or mine, and where we agree. What I propose is a lot more work, and a fusion of approaches.
Many writers feel their work should be shared and admired for its own sake, ignoring the power of social media to spread the message like never before. We do spend a lot of time plugging away on our blogs without putting in the time to grow them. You absolutely must make the time to create connections and provide value to people, and have a platform to share your work from. This is the new world, let’s make it happen and not complain.
However, the resistance takes this opportunity (as it will every time) to use it against you and your art. In my experience, I’ll write a post and think “Great! Done with writing for the week, now let’s share it”. Scheduling and emailing some people takes about 15 minutes, and then I don’t really do anything with it for a couple of days. My brain is content with what I have done, and I don’t consistently practice my writing, or do enough to promote!
I should be writing every day, or at least 5 days a week. I agree with Derek again that I don’t need to publish 5 posts a week, they would be watered-down and poorly promoted. What else can we do?
- We can write on multiple blogs, allowing time to promote each post and interact with the audience, while not over-whelming them. Guest posting is a good practice here as well.
- We can daily write a long-form piece, like a book or training course. Commit to 30 minutes a day, or 2 pages. Or less! But practice.
- We can write future posts early, allowing us to stay on a publishing cycle when life inevitably throws a curve ball.
By all means, find ways to be more efficient in your work and practice. But make no mistake that you must be willing to put in the effort to build something meaningful. There are certainly some great success stories out there, but you will usually find they have put in years of work in a related field to achieve success. We also must be consistently sharing our work and helping people with their own. We have to ship, to put our art in the world, and have the courage to say,
This is me, this is what I’m doing
Then we absolutely must get back up the next day and do it again. Because we love to do it, and the world needs it.
Question: What excuses are you holding on to that keep you from consistent practice?