These are book notes for The Miracle Morning for Writers by Hal Elrod, Honoree Corder, Steve Scott, and S.J. Scott
I read The Miracle Morning last year and really enjoyed it. Of course, I woke up at 6am for a couple weeks after that and then it trailed off. But I still have kept some of the ideas from it about establishing a morning routine. I have a Kindle Unlimited account1 and saw The Miracle Morning for Writers.
Affirmations are a tool for doing just that. By repeatedly telling yourself who you want to be, what you want to accomplish, and how you are going to accomplish it, your subconscious mind will shift your beliefs and behavior. You’ll automatically believe and act in new ways, and eventually manifest your affirmations into your reality.
My favorite advice on affirmations comes from Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert. In his book, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big, he explains how skeptical he was of affirmations. And essentially says hey, they work. (Here’s a blog post that’s a few years older than his book talking about mostly the same thing.)
I feel weird recommending affirmations to people, because I felt weird doing them. I also think they really worked. Reading the section on affirmations in The Miracle Morning for Writers was a good reminder. Most would agree that setting goals is important and reviewing them is crucial to reaching them. From what I could tell, affirmations work because they’re a way to explicitly review your goals on a regular basis.
2You often hear that we got to the moon with computers that were about as powerful as graphing calculators. We3 didn’t set a course for the moon and then put the shuttle on rails. The computer constantly calculated and adjusted back in the proper direction. Affirmations allow you, every day, to quickly check course and make sure you make the small adjustment.
You’re working on a section and realize you need to research a fact, so you hop on Google, and then you think of something related to social media. Next thing you know, you’ve spent the last 15 minutes watching cat videos on YouTube.
The internet is a black hole. Given enough time, starting anywhere I’ll end up at the 2001 Slam Dunk Contest. I bought a Chromebook to try and avoid distractions. It still has a web browser4 so of course that entire black is available and I need to be careful.
Some things I’ve been trying to avoid distraction that are effective:
- Writing longhand in a composition notebook (This is also why reading on a Kindle is nice)
- Turning wi-fi off
- Setting a timer
- Giving up
I’ve been trying to separate writing from things that aren’t writing:
- Outlining and then finding corresponding excerpts before adding thoughts and expanding on them
- Finding corresponding links
- I put TKs everywhere5 when I can’t remember a name or want to look something up later — I started doing this when I watched this playback of someone writing an article about Google draft progress.
To quote Bill Gates, “Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.”
Okay, so I’m not going to dig into whether he actually said that or not. There’s a similar quote that I can’t find the proper attribution for either, “People overestimate what they can do in one day and underestimate what they can do in a year.” I guess you can only believe in one of those sayings.
People pack their days to the brim so that any time they’re doing something it feels like they might be better served doing something else. Then they don’t find time to write, work out, or work on whatever other project they know is important. And you can forget the importance of consistency. Writing for half an hour a day adds up significantly over a year. I’m doing this project because I know that if I keep at it, I’ll have a body of work. It might not be worth reading, but it’ll be there. And it’s a step in the right direction.
Does a writing location really matter? I think it does. Where you decide to write has a direct impact on turning it into a permanent habit.
I’ve been trying to find a location for writing. Anywhere-but-at-home seems like the general location. But I think it’d be good to pick one of these coffee places nearby to make it a permanent habit.
He recommended that instead of starting with a novel, a new writer should take an entire year and produce 52 short stories, one for each week. In Bradbury’s view, it’s impossible to write 52 bad short stories.
This goes back to creating things on a regular basis and knowing the amount of work you can do in one year. Over this year, I’ll be writing 700 Crappy Pages, the sequel to 52 Bad Short Stories to Tell in the Dark.
The problem is this: When you start and stop a dozen projects, you’re not completing a single thing. In fact, you’re teaching yourself that it’s okay to quit whenever a project becomes challenging or boring.
Real artists ship. It’s satisfying to finish things. Unfortunately, it happens to be satisfying to start things too. You get that rush starting things and announcing goals to the world. The same payoff isn’t always there, though. Finishing is hard. Being able to share something of that helps others is in most cases better than keeping to yourself.
There’s always a slog where you know how far the end is or you might not even see the end in sight at all. Then there’s a slog when you can see the end but it’s not quite as close as it appears. It’s important to push through all of this. When it gets challenging, that’s probably where you’re starting to learn the most.
- I signed up for a free month of Kindle Unlimited which of course converted to a paid one and just kept it. Oldest trick in the book and it worked on me perfectly. ↩
- I can’t take credit for this analogy but I also can’t remember or figure out where I got it from. If you recognize it from somewhere, please let me know. ↩
- “We” as in me saying “We really need to shut them down in the 4th quarter.” with my hand sitting in a bowl of Cheetos. ↩
- Some would say it is a web browser. ↩
- Somewhat related — I love how Medium handles TK Reminders. ↩