Yesterday, I was invited to a video conference for a ten-minute presentation on the Nonfiction Authors Association’s Houston Chapter. (https://nonfictionauthorsassociation.com/) I am the current chapter chairman. A small group of writers was gathered to learn about the business of writing books.
Hammer and Writing
A couple of hours after my infomercial, the song, If I Had a Hammer, got stuck in my brain. However, the lyrics were slightly different. Most of us know that Peter, Paul, and Mary released this song in the early ’60s (https://genius.com/Peter-paul-and-mary-if-i-had-a-hammer-lyrics) and it was immensely popular. However, Pete Seeger and Lee Hays wrote the song in 1949. It was performed for the first time at a testimonial dinner for the leaders of the Communist Party of the United States.
Let me switch the lyrics slightly to align with my topic today. If I had a hammer, I would write in the morning, I would write in the evening, I would write out danger, I would write out a warning, I would write out love between…Why did this occur to me? I think part of this thought path’s inspiration was the opening I did for the presentation yesterday.
I told the audience that if they were writers, they should write daily. That is what writers do. I have written over 1,400 blogs (and half of them are posted on LinkedIn). My current streak is over 450 days in a row writing and publishing my blog to my website (https://redolaughlin.com) and social media. When I become an ‘overnight’ success, it will be because I produced content filling up twenty years.
It takes me roughly 90 minutes to select, research, write, publish, and post my daily writings. Yes, many people do not have an hour or more niche of time to devote to something like writing. Those same people probably watch an hour or more of television daily. I finish my business activities around 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. daily and then headed downstairs to join my wife watching a show or two before bedtime.
My Writing History
Writing for fun and writing as a business are vastly different. I find writing to be amazingly easy. In my military and corporate worlds, I have written over a thousand documents and procedures. Writing was a small part of my business way back then, and I never thought I would write in my retirement.
I dreamed about writing a book on some topic of quality or reliability engineering, but it never came to pass. I did teach statistics at the college level for a few years and even thought about writing on that topic. When I applied for a doctoral program in business at the University of Houston, I spent around fifteen minutes with the Statistics Professor. I got nine hours of stat waived based on our conversation only.
I wrote a couple of articles on logistics engineering and published them in the Society of Logistics International Symposium back in the late ’80s and early ’90s.
If you want to write, then you should write daily. It does not have to be an hour or more every day. Keeping a journal might be a good start. When my wife and I walked the Camino de Santiago (500 miles in 30 days) nearly five years ago, I wrote in a journal to keep my daily writing streak intact.
I joined a FB group intending to write 500 words a day for January – 31 days. At the end of January, many of us kept on writing. I remember at least three occasions when I went to bed and realized as I was trying to go to sleep that I had not written 500 words that day. I got up and went to my computer and wrote at least 500 words. I have not missed a day of writing in over seven years.
Reading & Writing
Reading helps writing a lot if you pay attention to the choice of words, openings, endings, descriptions, punctuation, and more. I read a lot, several books a month. I read a lot of articles doing my research for my daily blogs. I read for enjoyment and relaxation as well as the education and awareness of many things.
When, not if, you want to become a writer, take incremental steps. Get a notebook, put a date on the page, and write. If you do not like writing long-hand, then begin with a date of a blank piece of paper on your computer screen. Save the document with the date and maybe a hint of what you wrote about. It will not take long to develop a habit – usually around 30 days.
Live Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin – RedOLaughlin.com