Wednesday, March 6, 2013



toon-1192The good friend who encouraged me to write this blog did not expect me to commit to a blog-a-day schedule. He merely requested and insisted on consistency—and was right to do so. He is a very persuasive man.

Not unreasonably, people like their routines. If an author decides to write but once a week, his readers will accept that fact—providing that the end result is worthy, and delivered on time. If Saturday is the chosen day, then each and every blog should be delivered on Saturday.

That sounds reasonable, but it is a tougher discipline than it seems, because creativity isn’t something you can turn on and off like a tap. Or so one might think. The truth is that one’s creativity does vary—we all have bad days—but all of this is underpinned by discipline.

I decided to write a daily blog, because I wasn’t sure I would remember to write a weekly one—ridiculous but true—and because my instincts said it would improve my writing. Above all, it would be a discipline—and writing is hugely about discipline. After all, mostly we write alone without supervision—so who is to know whether we are dozing or working?

The reality is that a professional writer knows, and every instinct screams if he is not delivering—because that is the way he (or she) has conditioned himself. The trick is ferocious self-discipline over more years than I care to think about.

It is easy to describe, but hard to achieve, because we humans, by definition, are flawed, lazy, and easy to distract. And yet, for all our faults—the list is long—the evidence is clear that professional writers are impressively self-disciplined. We face a blank screen and we deliver—normally regardless of our personal circumstances—because that is what we do.

There are all kinds of skills in the world—from plumbing to flying drones from several thousand miles away.

Writing happens to be mine—and, much to my surprise, I have found writing a daily blog to be an invaluable assist. In truth, it is ferociously demanding—but it is consistently rewarding.

In terms of words, assuming one averages 500 words a blog a day—and I tend to average rather more—the end result over a year equates to 182,500 words a year. Impose some editing (editors love to cut) and that equates to about one Big Thriller a year. Think 150,000 words—and keep cutting. Word has it that the optimum size of a book in today’s market is 90,000 words. I find that a pity. I like a really good Big Read.

But readers want books not blogs? Actually, you guys—and I say this with all due respect—want both. The reality is that it doesn’t work that way. Fundamentally, my blog is both a way of communicating to you, my readers—and a way of getting up momentum for the serious writing that has to follow. It is a rigorous discipline—broadly akin to the exercises a musician goes through—but it is not the end result.

You exercise; and then you get really serious—and I say that with humor. Here is the thing: Seriousness in work—contrary to popular opinion—is positively NOT incompatible with humor, however counter-intuitive that sounds.


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