Today you will write 1000 words. Take a deep breath and say it out loud to yourself. I will write 1000 words today. You are doing this. Starting now.
This round of #1000wordsofsummer will last seven days. If your life is too complicated right now to write, please know that the letters are here and your words will always be waiting for you — no matter when you can get to them.
For those of you who are able to participate at this moment, in the midst of all the chaos of this world, let me just say to you what I say to myself all the time: Count yourself lucky, and do not waste this opportunity.
I recently rediscovered a small notebook I thought I had lost. I had been carrying it around with me at the end of last year, while I prepped myself for writing the book I am finishing now, my eighth, a memoir. Kind of a joke notebook, must have been a gift. It says “things that annoy me” on the cover, and there are only fifty pages in it. It is not a notebook I would ever buy for myself, but I would never throw it away either. Plus, I love things that fit in my back pocket.
I took it with me to a café and sat down and wrote a list of things to keep in mind while starting this project. It’s a sometimes goofy, go get’em sort of list. “How to write this book” was the title of it, and I had underlined those words with great sincerity, as if I were a child writing a school report.
Some of it was pretty basic talk, the kind of advice I would give any writer, like:
“Write the truest version.”
“Write it for yourself first.”
“Sit down and write every day until it’s done.”
I mean, come on, I know I need to read everything, but I’m still telling myself to do it after all this time.
I also wrote:
“Play to win, but don’t worry about winning any awards.”
“Not everyone has to like you in it, but you should like yourself a little more by the end of it.”
“This book is a formal declaration of who you are and what you believe in and how you write and what you have seen in the world. (No problem!)”
And then, weirdly, I had written this:
“Know all your enemies.”
So much has happened since I wrote those words, I can’t remember what I meant by them anymore.
But I could take it to mean a few things: Consider the subject matter carefully and who you want to write about and why. Or: Consider who will be there for you in real life as you write this book and who will be a detriment one way or another
But I think this is more likely:
Know which enemies lie within yourself. Your distractions and your neuroses. Identify all the ways you oppose yourself. Recognize them when they show up, see them for what they are. Dismiss them directly if you can, contend with them if you must, and then move the hell on and do your work.
Know your enemies. And then banish them.
Tonight, at 6 PM EST, please join us for a check-in at Loyalty Books with Maurice Ruffins, beloved son of New Orleans and author of the highly celebrated debut novel We Cast a Shadow. We will be chatting about productivity, creativity and more. Maurice asks that you consider donating to this wonderful organization.
If you would like to connect with other writers participating in #1000wordsofsummer, we have a slack open for the rest of the month here. There are also people who use the hashtag on both twitter and instagram. It’s a great way to check in and find support during the length of this project.
We have seven days. Let’s make the most of it.