Tomorrow morning, I leave to start my master's program at Stanford. Starting today, I’m going to write daily on this site. Here's why.
1. Beating my Resistance
“There’s a secret that real writers know that wannabe writers don’t, and the secret is this: It’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write. What keeps us from sitting down is Resistance.” – Steven Pressfield
Resistance. I am fortunate that Steven Pressfield explained it to me in The War of Art.
It’s the powerful, unseen force holding me (and probably you) back from living the life I want. It manifests itself in many different ways -- for me, it’s often fear of judgement and failure, procrastination, excuses, and lack of discipline.
Resistance is what makes Netflix a more appealing way to end a long day than reflecting, meditating, or writing. Resistance is what convinces me it’s acceptable to measure my success against other people instead of against my own potential. It's what keeps me from sitting down to write.
My Resistance has been holding me back. This – creating a blog on Squarespace so I can write every day – is commitment to myself (albeit a public one) to start winning the internal battle that's been eating at me, hurting my productivity, and killing my self-confidence.
2) Documenting a new chapter of my life
"Document, don't create. People aren't starting. They're just not making. They're thinking, they're pondering, they're strategizing, they're debating." - Gary Vaynerchuk
I love Gary Vaynerchuk because he says things I know intuitively to be true, but are hard to act on. Just do the work. Execution is everything. Start.
There was a moment a few months ago where I was sitting in a McMenamin's in Portland, I had just finished submitting all my graduate school applications – except for Stanford. I was tired, lacking self confidence, and came within millimeters of not sticking around the extra couple hours to finish the application.
The point is, I honest-to-God did not believe I would be where I am, and I'm beyond excited for the opportunity to study at Stanford. I know I will want to remember the journey someday, and I believe that documenting it can also provide value for others who hope to take a similar path. Making this commitment will help me squeeze every drop of value out of the experience.
3) Cycle of Continuous Improvement, or: I wanna get better
"If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There's no way around these two things that I'm aware of, no shortcut." – Stephen King in On Writing
For Stephen King, writing a lot means 2,000 words a day. For me, it will just mean one post, of any length, per day.
I want to be a great writer, thinker, communicator. Scrolling through Insta or watching Netflix isn’t helping me get there.
The more I listen to accomplished, creative, interesting professionals like Gary Vee, Casey Neistat, Stephen King, etc. -- the more I am convinced that having the self-discipline to actually do the work every day is the biggest separator between people who accomplish great things and people who don't meet their full potential.
It’s unfortunate when important ideas become relegated to nearly-meaningless buzzwords that mean different things to different people, and thus nothing at all. “Grit” has, sadly, been forced through the buzzword machine, but I still believe in it. Anya Kamenetz in an NPR article on the subject from 2015 summed up my favorite definition of the word: “to delay gratification in pursuit of a goal.” Having grit is hard. It would be more fun and probably relaxing to watch an episode of The Office every night before bed (my current routine), but it's not getting me closer to my goal.
That's where grit (or perseverance, discipline, self-regulation, whatever you want to call it) comes in. If I really want to get better, I have to commit. So I'm committing. I will follow the lead of Somerset Maugham and make writing part of my daily life:
“I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.” – Somerset Maugham