I recently finished Jack Kerouac’s novel On the Road. It’s one of those books I’ve heard people talk about quite a bit, usually with this cult-classic fascination that says, “If you don’t read this book, you are missing out on life itself.” People get like that with certain books and sometimes it’s unfounded, but the truth is, I did enjoy this one. Interestingly, though, my enjoyment wasn’t so much for the story itself or even the characters, but for Kerouac’s writing style. I guess you can like a book for a number of different reasons and that was mine.
Recently I read Stephen King’s autobiography On Writing and I’ve come to an important conclusion: When I grow up I want to be like Stephen King. I should clarify. It’s not because I want to write about demon clowns or other scary stuff that makes you fall asleep with the light on. I don’t want to do that. That’s not my thing. First off, I’ve never been to Maine, and secondly, the story It has forever ruined the circus for me. (Thanks for that, Mr. King.) What I do want, however, is his work ethic. King knows how to churn it out. Book after book. Year after year. For King, success is finishing one project and getting started on the next. He knows how to keep on running.
I’m slowly learning there is a monumental difference between the professional and the amateur. Take sports for example. The amateur athlete hasn’t been tested yet. He is still raw and inexperienced. He hasn’t discovered his drive or will. Practices are held when he feels like it. Often times, instant gratification trumps dedication to his craft. His level of commitment is shallow. The professional, on the other hand, is time-tested and refined. He’s been to battle. He knows you reap what you sow. Practice isn’t based on feeling or even desire. Rather, he is at it everyday, rain or shine. Come hell or high water. The professional knows what’s at stake. His level of commitment is deep.
I recently finished a month long writing challenge called the National Novel Writing Month. It was thirty days of writing with the goal of achieving 50,000 words by the 30th. I finished this morning with 109 pages, 50, 706 words, and 1, 132 paragraphs to show for it. Thirty days ago, the prospect of writing 50,000 words in a month was, to say the least, a daunting task. In fact, I tried to lessen the difficulty by claiming I’d pursue 40,000 instead. Little by little, though, I stuck to it and finished. The challenge itself has taught me not only about writing but also about discipline, pursuing your dreams, and the power of story. I thought I’d share a few insights I gleaned from the challenge.