One Grit chapter covers raising gritty children. Angela’s household has a “Hard thing” rule:
Everyone, including mom and dad, has to do a hard thing. A hard thing is something that requires daily deliberate practice.
You can quit. But you can’t quit until the season is over, the tuition payment is up, or some other natural stopping point has arrived. You can’t quit on a bad day.
You get to pick your hard thing. Nobody picks it for you.
It reminds me of something I heard on a podcast1. The example was editing audio. There are people trying to build platforms and they want to be audio engineers and editors for themselves. It takes a lot of time. Their argument is that they like doing it. Fair point, but it’s also taking up time that could be spent on something more important for their business or on something they enjoy more that’s completely recreational.
There’s a balance, of course. Angela Duckworth gives two examples of things she’s quit: piano and French. Piano didn’t come easy to her and she wasn’t very interested in it. Easy to drop. Dropping French was more interesting, because she found it interesting and she was picking it up quickly. Why stop? Because it was still taking up time.
Less time spent on piano and French freed up time for pursuits I found more gratifying. Finishing up whatever you begin without exception is a good way to miss opportunities to start different, possibly better things.
Applying this to my 100 Days, 100 Posts project, I don’t feel like quitting right now. I’m enjoying it so far. Some days I’m not in the mood to write. It’s fine, I try writing anyway. But you can’t quit on a bad day.
The natural stopping point will be 100 days. Halfway through, it’s fulfilling and I don’t see that changing in the second half.
After 100 days, I definitely want to keep making things every day. I’ll continue writing in some form. Publishing daily might not be quite as important. Trying to write, re-write, and edit in an hour or two each day means I’ll either 1.) write very short things or 2.) skip some steps. Taking the blocks of time I can squeeze into 2 or 3 days should allow me to go through the revision process. That’s where I’ll be able to improve.
Right now, there are times where I don’t edit. Editing and rewriting is the hard part of writing. That’s where deliberate practice comes in. Writing freely and blasting through a first draft is where you can enter flow. If I skip editing then I don’t think I’m getting better at writing.
I’m getting better at posting daily, which is a useful skill to have. It means I’m able to think about something to write about, write about it, then go through the logistics of adding links and images, then sharing it.
All of those things are useful but I want to edit and think more about the structure and paragraphs and sentences and words. (And to stop writing about writing.)
Right now isn’t the natural stopping point, so I’m going to keep posting daily.
I need to deliberately practice remembering my sources. ↩