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#16: Row, row, row your boat

#16: Row, row, row your boat

This is more a letter to myself, or a self-talking to. You're more than welcome to listen in. I have been interested in embedding the gains I have made. I have sought help from someone who could provide some concrete advice and sought comedic help (not that I need comedic help per se, but they are a comedian).

One oar stroke at a time

I have written before of my focus on goals that I can be in control of and not on those, such as metrics, that I can't directly influence.

Whilst I will never do an endurance sport that tests mind and body, I find solace in watching others doing it. I think it is one reason I love watching the Tour de France each year, or watching test match cricket.

This video by Laura Try is an example of something that is just awe-inspiring. The event requires a team of four people to row across the Atlantic Ocean, a mere 4,800km. They rowed in two-hour shifts. This means no sleep-ins. And because this was your off time, it was when you would eat, do other chores, communicate home, oh, and sleep. For only two hours at a time.

For Laura's team, this was 43 days, 2 hours and twenty minutes non-stop. Rain, hail or giant waves, it was constant rowing.

The call came through to all boats that there was to be a four-hour blast of a headwind. The team put all hands on deck to combat the wind. Nine hours later, the wind finally died down. At first, it devastated them. They'd only made four miles in that time until they learnt other teams gave up and conceded 10 miles. Their grit and determination gained them 14 miles.

Laura's team won the women's event. She summarises the lessons learnt as follows.

I think the reason I watch these endurance sports is that writing a novel length manuscript is very similar. Yes, there isn't the pushing the body element, but there is the need to show up for every shift, constantly keep writing one word at a time, the need for gratitude for the ability to write, and the knowledge that eventually I will complete the manuscript.

Don't break the chain

Wannabe comedian Brad Isaac once received advice from the still up-and-coming comedian Jerry Seinfeld.

The show Seinfeld was in its infancy, and Isaac asked for some advice.

Seinfeld "said the way to be a better comic was to create better jokes and the way to create better jokes was to write every day."

And to keep himself accountable, Seinfeld had a calendar on his wall. After he'd written for the day, he'd cross off with a big red X.

"After a few days you'll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You'll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain."

Instead of a huge calendar on my wall (I have little wall space because there are too many books), I have been publishing my daily writing on my site. I have an unbroken chain of 25 days so far. The writing, in the first week, took me an hour. Now that I am a veteran, it is taking me less than 20 minutes, and I am focusing more on the craft of writing.

I hope it shows.

End note

Thanks for reading. The only metric I see each week is the open rate for this email. And it is encouraging to see that you open it and read it.

Until next week,