The last writing principle: persistence

  1. Write at least one sentence every day
  2. Write 1–4 Short stories a month
  3. Finish, polish, and submit
  4. Once submitted, don’t rewrite except to editorial request
  5. Read 10X what you write
  6. Repeat this process 100 times.
  1. A Sentence A day. There will be an equivalent “minimum threshold” amount of work in anything: learning two foreign words a day, doing one yoga pose, running one lap, meditating for five minutes. SOMETHING.
  2. Finish 1–4 Stories a month. Find the ideal “staying speed” for your discipline and set that as your goal. Attending 3 classes a week does it in martial arts.
  3. Polish and Submit. This is where you take a chance, engage with risk. Put yourself on the line in some way, absorbing small fears to build your resistance to large ones. Connect with people more knowledgeable than you, and absorb their wisdom.
  4. Don’t rewrite except to editorial request. STOP SOME NEGATIVE HABIT. Identify the habits stopping you, and ask who you would have to be to behave differently.
  5. Read 10X what you write. Research ENDLESSLY. Become an expert in your chosen field. Get into the top 20% of your field — they are ALWAYS employed. You don’t have to be the best. But committing to be in the top 20% gives you a goal achievable with dogged persistence and constant modeling of excellence.
  6. Repeat 100X. Keep going until you master your discipline. And that means absorbing your basics at the level of “unconscious competence” and then committing to your path for a lifetime. If you aren’t willing to make that commitment…I sincerely hope that you’ll find something that DOES engage you so deeply. That is where the “juice” of life comes from. Be juicy.

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Steven Barnes

Steven Barnes

Steven Barnes is a NY Times bestselling author, ecstatic husband and father, and holder of black belts in three martial arts. www.lifewritingpodcast.com.