Thursday, September 25, 2014

What Fitbit taught me about writing

By Steve Weddle

In an attempt to get my cholesterol below 350 and my resting heart rate under 90, I’ve moved from a breakfast of bacon and egg croissant to bacon and egg on whole wheat bagels. Additionally, I got a Fitbit thingy to tell me how many steps I’ve walked and how many times I got up in the middle of the night to pee.

Here’s the thing I’ve learned from this: never stop to count your steps. I mean, you’d think I’d have learned this from the Kenny Rogers song, but I’m thicker than a hamburger patty from Eddie’s Oklahoma City BBQ and DVD Rental Shoppe.

If you stop to count your steps, you’re asking for trouble. Maybe you’re close enough to your goal to stop. See, they give you some crazy goal of 10,000 steps a day, which is something like 50 miles or so, I think. So I lowered mine to 1,200, figuring that was more achievable and a nice round number. 

Anyway, if you stop and look, you’re doomed. Like the cartoon of the coyote who looks down walking across the chasm. Or the Andrew Hudgins poem that mentions the cartoon of the coyote who looks down walking across the chasm. Or the blog post that mentions the Andrew Hudgins poem that mentions the cartoon of the coyote who looks down walking across the chasm.

As a writer, you should follow this advice. Never, ever send your work to anyone until you’re done. Never. It’s asking for trouble.

In my younger and less-middle-of-the-night-peeing years, I’d sometimes finish a chapter and immediately send it off to fellow writers asking what they thought. All I wanted was for them to say, “Golly, you’re pretty amazing. This is some fantastic writing. I’m so jealous of your skills.”

But my friends are complete assholes.

Instead, they’d say specific things. “Oh, I like how this is going. You plan to have the two of them get together later in the book?”

What? I hadn’t. But now should I? Or if I do, is it obvious that it’s coming? I mean, I shouldn’t because I hadn’t meant to, but maybe I should because it would be a good idea? My lord.
Or they’d make more pointed suggestions. I lost them because I didn’t explain the multiverse well enough. Was the cat talking or just thinking about a Rimsky-Korsakov-themed restaurant. Maddening, I tell you.

When you’re writing, just make up things to tell people. When they say, “How’s the writing going” just tell them it’s going fine.

Don’t tell them anything you’re really doing. Don’t share anything.

Most people just ask about your writing hoping you’ll ask about theirs -- like when people ask about your kids.

Don’t tell them. Don’t say anything.

Just write. Just keep taking your steps.

When you hit your 100,000 words or your 1,000 steps, then you can talk to people about it.

Never talking about the doing. Only talk about the done.


Alex Segura said...

Totally agree. I use a FitBit, too, and never thought about it in relation to writing - but this post is spot-on. just do it, and talk about it when you're done. You'll only get into trouble if you let too many people into the process before you're comfortable sharing. Thanks, Steve!

Nik Korpon said...

I thought you were going to say I should get my dog to write my novels the same way I attach the FitBit to him so he can meet my steps goal.

Thanks for nothing, Weddle.

Scott D. Parker said...

Great piece. Love the quote: Never talking about the doing. Only talk about the done.

Now, let me add one more thing. I have a Fitbit and when I reach 10,000 steps per day, it buzzes and such to let you know you've reached the daily goal. Additionally, throughout the day, I can tap it and it'll display, via a series of 5 dots, my daily progress. Carry that over to writing. If you have a daily writing goal, or even if you're goal is only to write every single day, celebrate when you've achieved it. It keeps you going.

Steve Weddle said...

Yeah. Process talk is what gets me in trouble. Well, that and showing up drunk to chamber music concerts.

Glad to help.

Yeah. We need blinking lights at the tops of our notebooks. I use pages on the ipad now and have to go to settings and turn word count on bc I don't like it always in front of me. Oh, 250 words today? DONE!

Steve Weddle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jack welling said...

I lie at parties and say I'm a geologist. Much better than admitting I'm trying to figure out how to stuff a body up your chimney.

Unknown said...

They've gotten the gimmick essay from someone who decided to show his originality by composing his answer in crayon on a piece of construction paper. They've gotten the pieces talking about how much a student's life has been influenced by mom, dad, or that particularly inspiring teacher. smart custom writing is trusted writing provider for the students.