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Sitting down to write

I’m on a three day writing retreat to finish one manuscript and begin two others. It’s weird. I write 700-1000 words every day before work and it’s not unusual to write a few thousand more per day for my work. But I’ve never actually set aside 60 hours from everything else just to write.

Some learnings….

  • Working on a book is really jacking with my writing mojo. On a typical morning I can write a 500-1000 word blog post in under and hour. It’s a whole lot harder to write a chapter, then another chapter, then another chapter all on the same topic in a single sitting.
  • This is a skill I think I can get into. What I write every day comes so easily. I think if I had the right space I could be a 10,000 words per day writer 4-5 days per week.
  • Pausing in a solo retreat is an additional animal to manage. Sitting down and creating this space to work on the book was easy. But being alone, taking long walks, eating meals by myself… that’s all slowing me down and making me really self-reflective and I’ve got ideas flying in from every direction. I might need to create writing retreats and solo retreats as two separate habits.
  • I really like being in Mexico. I’m in a small beach town just 45 minutes from home. It has everything that makes me happy. (Minus having my family here) Ocean breezes, long beaches, nice hotels, in-room kitchens, street tacos. We’re a long way from this but it has me dreaming of having a beach house down here.
  • Mexicans are the Americans the typical American thinks they are. I’ve now been down here enough to pick up on some cultural insights. Hang with me for a minute. Most of us who have had exposure with border areas have spent time with the poor or working poor. But when you get a little deeper into Mexico, away from the craziness of the industrial border zones, you start to bump into middle class Mexican families. These are people whose culture is hard-working, prides themselves on their law-abiding nature, are modest in how they dress, and define themselves by being very, very polite. These are the shared values with middle class Americans I wish we could build bridges on.
  • It’s fun staying at a hotel that hosts big, fancy Quinceañera parties. For about $700 you can host a massive party here at the hotel for 500 guests, including food and liquor a tent (or rooftop) and DJ for 8 hours. If you’ve never seen one of these it is somewhere between a first communion party and a wedding. Last night I watched a young woman do a video and photo shoot in advance of her party this weekend. She had a full film crew profiling her complete with a make-up person, lighting director, sound direction, TV-style video camera, and producer. After that she had 3 photographers. Two took pictures while a woman overseeing the shoot laid on the grass showing her all the girly poses she should be making to get the perfect shot. Hilarious to watch.
  • There’s no way to hide from my task. Yesterday I had a period where I fought through procrastination. It’s hilarious when you don’t have any distractions how you can get desperate to distract yourself. I spent an hour organizing files on my computer and deleting stuff I didn’t really need. While it was nice to get that done I totally wasted an hour and was annoyed at myself for it.
  • Nailing down jello is impossible. Since I’m writing on social media and basing so much of my work on current statistics, it feels really weird to quote statistics in a book when the statistics will have new variations by the time this is published. I’ve just had to convince myself that this is why I’m writing about principles and not exact responses to trends.
  • Turning off the creativity. This is non-fiction piece so I’m having to force myself to limit creativity. That’s really hard.

OK, time is up. Time to turn off the internet until dinner. (I’m cracking my own whip here, people!)

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