Give Me Fewer Resolutions and More Hustle
It's 8:47 p.m. when I sit down to write this. You want me to be honest with you? I don't want to sit down and write this. I had a long day. I woke up at 4:00 a.m., went to the gym, read a few pages, showered, got dressed, had breakfast, and drove to work a bit earlier than usual because I have cafeteria duty on Monday mornings. Then I taught all day and graded 200 tests. I went to the grocery story after work. The place was packed. I came home, ate, replied to some emails, and took care of my daily house responsibilities. Then I showered to get the stink of the day off me, had dinner, and here I am. Oh, and I was active on social media throughout the day because I need to keep Coyote Songs out there.
In any case, what I really want to do is grab one of the three novels I'm reading for review or jump on any of the books I'm reading for the Shirley Jackson Awards, sit down on the sofa, and forget about the world for a while. I want to waste some time looking at Facebook and Twitter. I want to click on a random horror movie on Netflix and call it a day because I know I will be up again at 4:00 a.m. tomorrow to do it all over again. Sitting down to write this means I have to write it, let it simmer for a bit, come back to it to clean it up, send it to my editor, and then email that editor to let him know my job is done. That will surely take a while...
Listen, I already told you why I don't want to write this. Now let me tell you why I'm writing it. I'm writing this because I'm a professional and getting the job done is what professionals do. I'm writing this because bullshit excuses are a dime a dozen, but those excuses are all little acts of self-sabotage. I'm writing this because I worked my ass off to get to a point in life where I get paid to write, and I'm not going to let that slip away. I'm writing this because LitReactor is a great venue and a cool part of my platform. I'm writing this because I'm a hustler. I'm writing this because the whole point of this damn thing is that resolutions mean nothing unless you put in the work. I'm also writing this because hopefully someone reads it and gets to work.
At the end of 2018 I wrote an essay on resolutions, but I felt like it didn't quite get my whole message across. This is me solving that. This is me talking to you straight about the importance of hustling. Don't worry, I'll keep it short. Oh, and this will probably be the last time I tell y'all this for a while.
I like to use social media to share the work of others and encourage folks to do what makes them happy. I also talk about how people always have excuses, and every time I do that, a few dozen writers rush to explain to me why I'm wrong. They say things like "We all need a break from time to time" and "Watching a series is inspiring to me." I talk about making time when there seems to be none and folks jump up to explain how they have a hard job and a kid and cat to take care of and some other shit to do. Here's the point: no one cares. You either do or you don't. That's it. Everyone is given the same 24 hours every day. What you do with them is what makes a difference. There are writers out there who can stay home and write all day. I'm happy they get to do that. They also know that if they don't fucking write, they're going to have to look for a regular job sooner or later. If you aren't part of that group, then you have to use your time wisely. Maybe your break is too fucking long. Maybe watching five hours of shows every damn day is what's keeping you from finishing that novel. We can play nice and keep quiet about things, but maybe those posts where you blame your cat for not getting any writing done are absolute horseshit and you can just gently remove the sleeping feline from your space and get to work. Yeah, I went there. Comments and tweets about letting Fluffy finish his nap coming my way in three...two...
Listen, I have a couple of jobs and a ton of freelance stuff on my plate, but I also took it upon myself to be the guy who constantly reminds you that if you want something, you have to go and get it because no one is going to give it to you. I want you to succeed. I want to read your work. I want all of us to get that juicy advance. Seriously. And you are free to ignore everything I say. You can reply angrily. I don't care. The point is this: a lot of people are better at coming up with excuses to not produce anything than they are at creating things. You can decided if that is going to be you. No one can do it for you. No one cares if you ever finish your novel or not. No one cares if you tweet every day. No one cares if you binge watch stuff for months on end and never get a word on the page. No one cares if you quit. In fact, the hardest thing for any writer out there is making people care. Being loud is hard. Staying active is hard. However, despite how awesome fans and agents and publishers can be, the fact remains that your career is, first and foremost, in your own hands. What you do, or don't do with it is entirely on you.
I think I cleared things up a bit, don't you? Resolutions and plans and promises and self-imposed deadlines are good, but hustling is better. The single element that shows up in the careers of all the writers I respect is hustle. They sit their asses on a chair, bang out a book, and then plug that shit while writing the next one. That's a simple lesson, and one that I have applied since day one. I don't know what level of success that will translate to, but I know that, if hustle pays or counts for anything, I'm gonna be at the top of the list. I hope y'all come with me.
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