Cliff Jumping and Creative Pursuits
Michael is a worship leader, fiction and non-fiction author, woodworker, and too much more to list. When he’s not chasing his toddlers around and teaching them to be men, he’s up to plenty of other crazy adventures. See those at michaellacey.me and glance at his Amazon author page. He stays fairly active on Instagram (especially the stories) and Facebook.
Want to live the writer’s dream? Become the inspiration, and write every day.
Standing on a cliff top, staring down a thirty foot drop to the murky lake. Four guys have followed me up the steep embankment from water’s edge.
I’m aware of my hesitations, hurts, habits, and hang-ups. So rather than allowing those to take hold, I step back a few feet, then run forward with all my strength.
I know, the title of this blog is a little self-helpy (no, that is not a real word, feel free to use it), but bear with me.
A few years ago, I went on a trip with some colleagues whom I admire. Of all the great things that happened, there is one standout moment: jumping off a cliff into a lake, specifically me goading them to do it with me.
Just the other day, one of the men on that trip brought this up. He told me that I inspired him to start taking chances again—he used to take risks all the time, but somewhere along the way, he started playing it safe. He said it was a turning point in his life and that he wants to be more like Michael Lacey (that’s me, by the way).
I was humbled by that.
What I didn’t get to tell him was that I was also afraid, and that’s exactly why I made myself do it.
Because of that attitude, I’ve since written four books, released a short album of original music, and started a woodworking business on the side—all while working two part-time jobs and helping raise our first baby (our second will be here any day!)
Am I superhuman? Probably, but that’s not the point. The point is that one day, if you keep at it—whatever it is that you are passionate about—then you will become the inspiration that will help change someone else’s life.
So, I suppose you’ll be wanting some how-to’s and life hacks to help out?
Here is the number one piece of advice for authors to get started, stay consistent, and finish well:
Write Every Day
Hey, that spells “WED,” as in commit yourself to your work…coincidence? I think not. Technically, it should be “Write/Edit Every Day,” but let’s not go there.
Many writers will say to write every day, and for good reason! Not only does the brick-by-brick construction method actual yield incredible results, but staying in that mindset builds momentum. Some of my friends and colleagues are blown away when I tell them that I write every day. I almost always get the same comments...some you might find familiar.
Things You Might Have Said (and how to overcome them)
“I wish I could do that. How?”
You don’t have to be absolutely devout about this, just make sure to put in daily work, whether writing, editing, or intentional planning (mind-mapping, book-mapping, outlining, world-building, etc.). Put whatever parameters you need in place based on your personality.
For me, I make sure to write every night, often following many eye rolls from my wife. I write when the kids are asleep and she’s gone to bed. Yes, that means I don’t watch Netflix and I don’t chill. Let’s not carry that metaphor too far…we have two kids. I still watch shows and relax but only after I’ve met my goal or at a different time of the day (lunch time is my favorite!).
“What if I have a really busy week coming up?”
If a tough night or week is coming, the key is to get ahead of it. Put it on a calendar or keep it in the front of your mind. Dial in each day based on your goals; are you planning to write 1000 words per day (#1kperday) or 1 hour per day? Pad the busy days with longer writing sessions on days before and/or after.
Here are some more tips that have helped me immensely:
Try using voice-to-text on your phone or voice memos that you can get transcribed later.
Put in the writing time at a different time of day, during a lunch break or in traffic (hands-free only!)
Have grace for yourself. Sometimes, 15 minutes is all you can muster, but that’s 15 minutes further than you were yesterday. It adds up. Also, don’t be afraid to over-write for 2-3 hours if you’re in the zone, but don’t force it; tomorrow is coming.
Set up a reward, maybe a sweet treat at the end of the week or a monthly movie date (as long as you hit your word count or time goal). Honestly, this doesn’t seem to work for me. I’ve spoiled myself as an adult. I take what I want when I want! Do you believe that last part? You shouldn’t.
BONUS TIP: Keep track of your writing sessions, either by word count or time in and out. You can put this in a separate notebook or keep tabs at the end of your document. I prefer Scrivener where I can keep all my docs for one book in an easy to navigate panel. This record is great for self-review, momentum, and encouragement.
“What if I can’t commit to writing every day?”
Try once a week for one hour, uninterrupted. I started with a Thursday morning—the only day with some breathing room in my hectic schedule—and wrote at Starbucks (how cliche…but it works!). Turn off the wi-fi, and if you can, set an alarm. Having a playlist helps (here’s one I use). This time is sacred and should be treated like an appointment or an important meeting.
Write down your daily and weekly schedule, including ‘me-time’ and fun stuff like watching tv or social media. Surely, there’s more room than you think. Find your “why.” Make sure you value writing enough or you will grow resentful. You’ll have enough emotions to wrestle with as it is.
Scott Allan from SPS also has a great post on becoming a weekend writing warrior!
“My life is busy, you don’t understand…”
Oh honey, I understand; I’ve been busy beyond belief, so much that it cost me a job once, a good, reliable job. I can also read between the lines. You are insecure, unprepared, afraid. Remember that cliff from before?
What is keeping you from taking the leap?
What’s that old phrase? Excuses are like something...holes, everybody’s got one. Oh well, maybe it’ll come to me later. As hard as it is, don’t question the value of writing now, question it from 5, 10, or 30 years ahead. Live in the future, looking back to now and wondering how you would have wished you treated this moment.
“Is this really possible? Is it worth it? Am I any good?”
Yes, that depends, and probably not. Clearly, it’s possible, and if this is something you value, then it is worth it. The hardest part for me is knowing whether I’m any good at writing. My goal isn’t to write a great novel, not right now at least. I’m not naive, I want to write a good novel. Heck, I’d settle for “decent.”
Great takes time. Great requires mastery. Great is attainable not just for the prodigy but for the committed.
As a young couple, I once asked my wife what hobbies she’s interested in being better at? She said that it wasn’t worth starting anything if she’s not good at it to begin with. She was 24. I was flabbergasted (good word, eh?). I asked, “Do you seriously think that you don’t have time? Do you seriously think that after 50 years of practice, or even 10, you would suck at painting?”
My goal is to be a great writer when I’m in my 60s onward. My next 30 years (cue that Tim McGraw song) will make all the difference. For me, it’s a long game. It will require tons of writing that may never be published. It’s all useful though. We learn from every keystroke, from every word, from every critique or review. Nothing is wasted.
Sounds easy enough, right?
Is this as easy as it sounds? Not by a long shot. Is this necessary to accomplish your author dreams? I believe it is.
Next time you see that cliff and fear tells you to play it safe, remind yourself of what you’re really doing and why. You are taking a leap of faith. Whether you end up broke and broken, fulfilled and satisfied, or in over your head, remember the power you have to inspire. Not only will it be seen, but you will look back and see what you’ve done. Everything has purpose, and growth requires pain.
Don’t shy away for fear of a little failure. Each misstep ensures better footing the next time. Failure is the road we must walk to find success.
Are these real quotes or am I making them up on the spot?
Let me know below! Share your favorite ‘Write Every Day’ or ‘Creative Endeavors’ advice in the comments section.
EDIT: I wrote this before baby #2 got here (4-15-19)…since then, writing has been a struggle, but I’m always taking notes on it and planning.