Measure Your Art By This.

Not Minutes or Moments

I’ll admit it: likes and shares are a lot of fun. And it’s cool to see your writing and your voice grow even a little bit.

But…are those small writing wins creating something interesting?

Are you building your content city, filled with interesting places and sights to see?

Sometimes, yes. A lot of times, no.

Some things are intentionally meant to be a flash-in-the-pan; others are a slow simmer that takes a long while to create and marinate.

But the body of work? It’s more than a moment. It’s more than a few months.

I like what the designer Paul Jarvis said many years ago (I can’t find it now!)

“Art is measured in lifetimes, not months” — Paul Jarvis

Art is a lifetime.

It’s a fact I often forget.

Most of the artists we admire didn’t write just one book or paint one awesome picture or record one sweet song or have just one incredible meme.

The ones we truly admire are the people who did it repeatedly.

The most memorable artists made connections over and over again, and changed the game in some way while doing it. Their art is a collection of great moments over a sustained stretch.

Too many people are trying to scratch something out fast, just because. But if “success” doesn’t come fast enough, they’re done.

If you really liked it or enjoyed it and wanted to make a career out of it, it takes more than a few hours and a handy “life hack” to go with the passion.

In the race to the top, we often go for the moment rather than trying to create a legacy.

Good work takes time, possibly even a lifetime.

Not Every Book Should Be on TV

Some Thoughts on the “Wheel of Time” Amazon Adaptation

I had never heard of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series until I was teaching writing at a community college.

An ambitious long-haired high school male was taking my classes for extra credit.

“Can I do an essay on this?” and he slams down a huge copy of Wheel of Time. “It’s fantasy,” he meekly added.

I let him do the report on the book, and honestly, I haven’t thought much about Wheel of Time since. I didn’t get interested in the book, I’m not really into fantasy, and the length of it didn’t exactly invite me in.

Amazon bought Wheel of Time a few years ago to essentially be their “Game of Thrones,” another huge epic fantasy series I’ve never read.

The “Wheel of Time” news received less fanfare than Amazon’s other big purchase: a Lord of the Rings TV show.

As if a 4(?) movie series wasn’t enough for us.

What’s Missing in These Epic TV Adaptations

So we have Lord of The Rings.

Game of Thrones.

Wheel of Time.

And others like Outlander that are an equally absurdist fantasy, but not quite as long.

But I thin there’s a key part missing in a lot of these things.

Books are books for a reason.

Films and television are not the superior medium for every story. Not every story should be filmed. And these books, including Wheel of Time will push television farther than it needs to go.

This piece in GQ illustrates that really well. Zach Baron — one of the top magazine writers going right now — talks about how successs on one these hows is sliding through the mud for eight years in Western Europe. Not even in LA or the United States where most of the actors are from.

Far from families and friends, their lives are devoted to this show.

They’ve already filmed two seasons without it premiering yet. The showrunner is doing 100-hour workweeks.

He’s working more than Robert Jordan probably ever did. And that’s kind of the point.

His worlds are hard to film. Their “fantastical” and big with lots of complex ideas and plots. It’s much simpler to imagine these things and write them down instead of creating towns that you then have to burn down for only a few scenes.

Writing is easier than filming (though still hard!) and has the potential to supersede visuals and go beyond where TV can go.

Instead, the reader does the hard work — the imagination paints its own film.

Writers can take advantage of that and have taken advantage of that. Not even film can always beat it. Nor should it. Good written stories can still win a few.

The caveat to all this is that digital animation, 3D, and AI are quickly catching up. I’m okay with that. The lift will be easier and it will take storytelling to a different level.

I’m just not sure it’s worth it for traditional actors, craftspeople and the like to make this type of sacrifice.

But we’ll see.

How To Start (& Stick With) A Writing Habit

6 Tips For Starting a Writing Habit

How do you get a writing habit going?

How do you generate a writing habit from nothing?

That’s a different concept than the habit itself, and from the writing it creates. And not all writing habits are the same, or have the same value.

In a previous post, I made a few suggestions about what your writing habits could be.

But in this post, let’s talk about how to frame your writing habit and where to start, and how to stick with your writing habit.

Warning: You will need to be ruthless in your decision-making.

Step 1: Decide which writing habits are worth it.

Make time in your schedule in the morning or evening?

Writing every day?

Coming up with ideas?

We’re going to have different perspectives on these, but it’s important to share new ideas so you can try them out and decide what works for you.

For instance, I don’t write every day, but I do try to come up with ideas most days especially when I haven’t yet chosen my next idea to pursue. This is more motivating to me and helps me power through.

You will need to go through a discovery process to understand what writing habits are best for you.

Find a few foundational writing habits before adding on more.

2. Create a low bar for your new writing habit

Start with ten words.

Or one page. (You can’t write a novel until you write a page).

Or start with 10 minutes.

Or get up early for 3 days and see how it goes.

Stay up late for 3 days and see how it goes.

Set proper expectations for your writing habit before you declare yourself a failure. Give it a shot. Experiment. If it doesn’t work, go back to number one and try another option.

But create a low expectation for what you’re doing until you have done it consistently for a while. And then change it.

3. Keep Track of Your Writing Habit

At the beginning of 2021, I downloaded a habit tracker called Streaks. I have a few habits I try to keep up with, one of them is writing for at least 10 minutes per day. I accomplish this fairly easily because of my day job, but that notification is a good reminder.

4. Read part of a book each day

Another habit on Streaks? Reading a book each day. No, I do not read a full book each day, but I try to read a chapter or 2, sometimes more. This exposes me to different writers while also staying off of the immediacy of social media.

5. Keep a Notebook or a Digital App for Notes

As part of my writing workflow, I use Google Keep to take quick notes or sometimes a piece of paper. This is especially helpful if I have an idea during my focused work, and don’t want to jump on Google to explore it further. I can write it down, keep working on what I was doing and return to it later.

It also may be easier for you to take voice memos or quickly film yourself to remember ideas. This works, also.

6. Keep Going…For Awhile.

When developing your new writing habit, the most important day isn’t necessarily the first, but probably Day 5. Then Day 10. Then Day 30. But honestly, by Day 5 you should know if a particular writing habit/schedule will be beneficial to you or not.

I’m not a huge fan of continuing at all costs, and everyone should know when to pull the plug. But there’s also a matter of fighting through the resistance, too. Give yourself a fighting chance — a chance to break through that resistance to see if your habit is worth keeping.

Need More Time To Write?

Here’s How I Work Writing Into My Schedule

Fair warning…

The tips in this post don’t have anything to do with getting up earlier and 4:14 AM timestamps on Instagram.

I’m *very* tired of those posts.

…Because that’s not when I thrive at all.

I’m not a morning person, and my children know things will not go well for them unless I’ve had 2 cups of coffee.

Yet, I still find time to write, even with a family, a full-time job, and other responsibilities. I’ve managed to write a few novels, and do other projects — some more successful than others.

The Truth About Finding Time To Write

Instead, I had to find a method that worked for me, and those habits are listed below.

Truthfully, I struggle to do these habits myself — I’m not the image of a perfect writer — but when I do implement these writing practices, they are game-changers.

There’s a huge difference in my mentality and output.

To a few of you, these will seem ridiculously obvious, to which I can’t argue…I have a message for you at the end.

The TL;DR Tips

Okay, now on to the actual tips….

I’m going to list them out below, and then include a bit more explanation below, but if you want the TL;DR this is it:

  1. Find one night (or multiple nights) of the week where nothing is planned.
  2. Choose your topic or topics.
  3. Write for one hour.
  4. Stop.

1. Find one night (or multiple nights) of the week where nothing is planned.

Let’s leave COVID aside from one minute, and go back to 2019 or hopefully a time in the near distant future where your calendar will fill up again. You will be invited to things, things will be happening, and you will have responsibilities.

  • Look at your calendar and pick a night of the week where nothing is scheduled.
  • Write in your planner or calendar that you will write for one hour.

If you are the busy bee in your group of friends or in your family, and you have a full-time job, and you want to be a writer, you will need to say “no” sometimes.

Say it with me: NO.

You can’t do everything. I’m not saying skip all of your parties, movie nights, trivia nights, and drinking nights, but you will need to say “no” to one of them. I’m not even telling you which ones.

But you need to be more ruthless with your time.

This also means cutting out Netflix, Hulu, or whatever.

Josh — that’s when I spend time with my significant other!

Great, awesome.

Tell them you love them and that you will be on the couch with them in one hour.

In the modern world, a lot of couples spend time on separate devices watching separate shows and playing separate Animal Crossing games. If that’s how you spend your time, then you can definitely sacrifice some of it to write.

Notice I didn’t say do this every night. PLAN ON WHEN YOU WILL DO IT.

Then your significant other will know, you will know, and it’s on the calendar. Once you’ve already scheduled it, it will become easier to skip random Netflix surfing because you know what’s on the schedule.

If you really want to kickstart this plan, block out a few nights of the week. That sounds like a lot but take a look back on #3.

It’s for one hour. You can do that.

2. Choose your topic or topics. (15 Minutes)

Now that you’ve scheduled and blocked out your hour of writing, you must choose a topic. If you’ve been following along on my ideation plan, you can use this time to either develop an Idea List or to start prioritizing and working out your key points.

A lot of writers get tangled up in this step because they think they’re supposed to write on one topic…

…That’s not necessarily true.

If you’re working on several projects, you may need to bounce around a bit, if you’re working on an idea — then just start writing and see if that idea has legs.

That’s fine. You’re not a failure.

You’re making consistent progress, and that’s a good habit.

3. Write for one hour.

I’m saying an hour not only for writing, but also the writing process.

The writing process involves:

Planning, organizing, writing, revising, pausing, and editing.


Let yourself create an outline, brainstorm, edit, and try new strategies or paragraphs. That’s what this time is for. Sure, you may be able to create one article in that time or even take steps towards two. But I’m not being that prescriptive about it. If you’re a writer, start making your own decisions.

But, I’d also like to cap you at an hour. This is enough time to feel some momentum…

It makes you feel good about your progress and gives you a nice exit ramp.

And you told your significant other that you would do something with them, so you have a hard stop no matter what.

…But an hour is also not too long if things start to wane.

Some nights you will feel like you can keep going — and maybe you should! But your average will be an hour. Some nights will be better than others, and the hour mark is easily achievable if things become too hard.

To keep the Internet from being a crazy distraction, you may want a website blocker to help you — especially on those writing nights when you’re not doing research.

4. Stop.

You have other things to do — or at least other things you enjoy. You made time for writing, and now you can stop. I’m a big believer in taking many swings and chipping away. An hour allows you to do that. And the more nights you plan out for your hour, the more progress you can make.

You Don’t Have To Be A Morning Person or A Night Owl…

I hate this crazy dichotomy. Instead, I’ve tried to develop writing habits that don’t make me stay up too late or get up too early. Granted, this is not always the case and I try to force writing in around my other commitments…and then I end up feeling groggy and ridiculous the next morning.

Obviously, you can do this plan during the morning if you want to. Even at 4:14 AM. All I’m trying to say is that it doesn’t have to be that way.

But if you want to schedule your writing for that time of day, then this plan will work equally as well.

This Is The Power of Planning

However, when I plan ahead, guess what happens?

My expectations are reset.

I don’t feel bad about not writing one night, because I didn’t plan on writing that night.

See how that magically works? I don’t guilt myself into something because I’m sticking to my schedule. And you don’t even have to get up early if you don’t want to.

I don’t feel bad about saying “yes” to some things and “no” to others, because I understand the trade-offs being made in order to write more and more effectively.

Circling Back…

At the beginning of this post, I cautioned you that many of these tips will seem obvious.

If that’s you, I’ll hit you back with another question:

  • How often do you operate like this?
  • How often are you putting these into practice?

Even if there are one or two people out there that this will help, then that’s a success…

…And if that is you, then please reach out and say hello.

Try These 3 Daily Habits To Have A Rich (Writing) Life

I produce a lot of writing each day, including here on Medium, on LinkedIn, and for my day job as a marketing leader. I’m constantly reading, editing, and revising.

In the past, I have become stuck on the eternal question — what to write about next? For my day job, I have to figure that out. Content is a huge part of our strategy.

But for Medium or personal writing? The urgency isn’t always there. So here are a few habits that I’ve developed to help me be consistent (even if I’m not publishing or writing each day).

1. Make a list of 10 potential writing ideas each day (or at least a few times a week)

I’ve started doing this every day, and it’s helped me immensely both in my personal and work writing (Here’s a more in-depth post on this).

But here’s a hint I didn’t go over: many of these ideas can come from other places. You are rarely ever starting from scratch!

  • Read a good article on Medium? Take an idea from that.
  • Read a good article in an online newspaper? Take an idea from that.
  • Rereading your own articles? Take an idea from that. This one especially is a common strategy that I use. It actually helps you build out your library of content and avoid dead-ends in your content.
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