When I was trying to break in as a writer, I got scads of rejection slips, and every one of them hit me like a sledgehammer to the stomach. The voices in my head were screaming monsters, filled with doubt, fear, pain, guilt, anger, and an increasingly hollow sense of futility.
Give up. I’m wasting my life. There is no hope.
Every night when I went to bed. Every morning when I woke up. This was before I had a formal structure of “the Machine” but I had read Bradbury’s advice to “write a story a week, or every other week”
For how long, though? What was a reasonable time to keep banging my head against the wall? And sometimes in about 1976 I decided: 100 Stories. Why? Because actual logic (as opposed to fear) told me I could probably do it in about 50. Maybe less. But what if I got close, ran into walls, and the nausea and doubt caused me to bail on my dreams when they were right on the other side of my efforts?
There is a story told in a motivation book whose name I no longer remember, about a guy digging a gold mine. He was very successful at first…and then the gold died out. Just gone. So he sold out for the cost of the machinery, and left the country. The man who bought the machinery brought in a mining engineer who mapped the strata and theorized that there was another vein just a few feet from one of the tunnels where the first man had stopped. The second man dug as directed…and struck one of the deepest,richest veins in the history of the state.
The first guy had stopped digging too soon. I didn’t want to stop digging too soon…but I also didn’t want to kill myself chasing an impossible dream.
So…100. If I committed to 100 stories STARTING FROM WHERE I WAS, I could do that in two years. Then, if I still didn’t get there, I could quit and do something else with my life. But I’d know I’d really given it my best shot.
What I ask from a student is to commit for one year. Twelve months. To go through every holiday, birthday, emotional anchor on the calendar. To read hundreds of stories, and write at least 12, minimum. Then, if they haven’t sold a story at the end of that time, they’ve given it an honest shot, and can leave the field with honor.
If you can sell ONE story, the second one is easier. And the next, and the next. And when you’ve sold 30k of short work, you’re ready to write a 30k novella. And when you’ve sold 100k of shorter work, you’re ready for that novel.
Simple, direct, measurable, paced, proportioned. One step and then another, and another.
THAT is the Lifewriting Premium program. It is for people who are ready to commit to spending a year of their lives. If you don’t think MY program is the one you want to follow for a year, just cancel at any time. But please, please….give yourself a year, STARTING NOW. 100 stories STARTING NOW. 100k of work STARTING NOW.
Give your dreams some breathing room. Please.
You’re worth it.
Write with passion, live with purpose!