Set Writing Goals

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A few mornings ago at the gym someone asked me where subjects for this blog come from. I don’t have any preselected ideas about what I’ll write on before I begin writing. Usually, something will spark an idea, I’ll open up my computer and just start and keep going until the juice starts to fade.

I quit just before my enthusiasm is extinguished. This is the advice of Ernest Hemingway. He also recommended writing drunk and editing sober. This has never worked for me. All of the writing I’ve done under the influence of anything other than coffee is terrible. Every once in a while I’ll come up with a funny turn of phrase if I’m very stoned, but it’s a high cost to pay. Invariably when it comes time to edit sober, I find I’m not left with much quality. Write caffeinated, edit caffeinated is my mantra.

Ernest-Hemingway-001

The more physical training I do, the better my writing is. I usually work out in the early morning, but that’s also the time my writing is at its sharpest. Late in the evening, after 10pm is also pretty good. If I was writing for a living, not copywriting, I imagine I’d want to have a schedule where I wrote from about 5am to 8am, hit the gym for 9am, come home and read, eat, then start editing whatever I wrote in the morning.

My dream is to have a space where I could have a home gym and study in the same spot. That way I could lift weights and write as inspiration waxed and waned, without the need to lose time commuting to and from a gym.

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Another thing for writing that’s important is to give yourself timelines and goals. This is long overdo for me. I want to have 120 pages of solid horror writing done by Jan 1, 2017. This may be 10 stories or one big one. I’ll leave that up to fate. It’s a little less than a page a day if I were to get moving on it now.

It’s also good to have financial goals tied to writing. At least if you’re serious. A few years ago I wrote down I wanted to make as much money writing as I did bartending. I didn’t care what kind of writing it was. I me that goal, but unfortunately I still don’t make as much hourly as I did pouring drinks. That’s one of the reasons it’s such a hard gig to give up and such a good one for writers. Plus you have all kinds of funny stories to tell.

Tim Ferris has this really solid idea about figuring out the exact number of dollars you actually need to live the life you want. Lots of people think they need to be millionaires, but if you add up the actual cost of living a pretty fun life, it’s usually fairly achievable. For instance, $105K a year basically lets me train the way I want, buy the books I’d like to read, have a cool vintage truck and touring motorcycle, save for retirement, and pay my house off in a reasonable amount of time. It’s actually a pretty excessive lifestyle for me.

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What’s crazy is I could probably hit that goal with boosting my freelance or even tending bar three nights a week on top of my day job. The problem there is you don’t have enough time to do all the fun stuff. And that’s the rub. How do you get to live a life you enjoy while meeting your financial goals? Fuck if I know. That’s why I keep writing everyday.

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