Day 10: On Building Your Story
Words create sentences; sentences create paragraphs; sometimes paragraphs quicken and begin to breathe.
—Stephen King 10
Writing a novel is a daunting task if you’ve never written one before. It’s hard to write even a single paragraph, let alone write two or three hundred pages that will capture the attention of the reader and keep them reading until the last page. What’s worse, after all this effort, you’ll probably realize that your novel, when compared to a widely-acclaimed bestselling novel, is only good for kindling.
What you fail to see is that the author of that bestselling novel most likely has spent a decade or more mastering their craft. They started with words, which then became sentences, paragraphs, and eventually stories. Their first attempts — like those of everybody else — were unsuccessful. It took them hundreds of thousands of words’ worth of practice to finally write a masterpiece.
Building self-discipline is similar to writing a novel. You might consider a disciplined person who always wakes up at four in the morning, is physically active every day, eats a healthy diet, is super productive, and is capable of balancing it all with their social life and family obligations as a superhuman. But in reality, this person, like the bestselling novelist, probably started with one simple change and kept building on top of it.
Whenever you get discouraged, or feel tired by how far you still have to go to accomplish your goals, remind yourself that everybody who has built self-discipline had to go through the same process — starting with little changes which then turned into habits, which then led to big lifestyle changes and identity shifts, and eventually, into successes.