There was a stretch – certainly nothing recent – where I wrote every day for 144 straight days.
It started out as a way of trying to measure my productivity. For those of you that don’t know, I am a big fan of using spreadsheets. Which is kinda funny, because if I had to rely on my Excel skills to escape a wet paper bag, I’d still be stuck there.
Anyway, I had set up columns for the date, the title of what I was working on, how many words I got, my running total of words, and the consecutive number of days worked.
To this day, I have no idea what I had planned to do with this information.
It wasn’t easy. There were, in fact, several days in that stretch where I didn’t get much done at all, but I overcame the struggle and I got words down.
Unexpectedly, simply keeping up the spreadsheet helped me along. I had a nice, long unbroken streak and I didn’t want to break it. I knew that if I broke it, instead of skipping to the next day or (even worse) leaving a row blank and moving on with the next row, I’d have to start over completely* and that wasn’t something I wanted to face.
Then I missed a day. I don’t even remember what caused it. Might have been that I had gotten sick and slept the day away. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is that, after 144 days, I slipped. Broke the streak.
And nothing happened.
Somehow the world managed to go on turning.
The next time I sat down to write, the work was still there. No judgement, no reassurance, it just was.
I put in a 5000 word day once, and I’ve also had days where it was so hard that, after 90 minutes, I’d gotten less than a hundred words down. Next day? Back at word #1.
Some days, I feel like I’ve done what I could. Other days, I feel like the worlds biggest slacker.
The work doesn’t care about any of that. It’ll be there the next day, as constant as the dawn…and about as judgmental.
What you’ve done (or not done) in the past, is the past. What you’ll be capable of in the future hasn’t happened yet. Learn what you can from the past, move on, and be ready to apply it to the future, but remember:
Neither the past, nor the future will get anything done in the present. This is something that I try to remember. Word-count, the total number of consecutive days you’ve written, all of it is window dressing.
What it all boils down to, what it has always, ever, boiled down to is a question that only you can answer…
Will you do the work today?
*That’s the way I’m wired, folks.