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Consistency for Writers

Little_boxes_high_599073_hConsistency.

Yawn.

The word is much like the word discipline in that it elicits yawns and boredom from us.  I mean, who ever got excited about the word consistency?

And yet, consistency is how writing gets done.

When you have a consistent writing practice, books get written.  Blog posts get written.  Essays get written.  I was thinking about this today when I was despairing about a lenghty ghostwriting project I've got going.  The topic is dense, the information complex.  And I'm getting the book written one word at a time.  I keep going back to it consistently.  I keep putting it on my to-do list. And the chapters are piling up.

So, too, with my latest novel.  I keep plugging away at it (actually, that makes it sound like it's not much fun working on it, and the opposite is true–I love it) and with a consistent practice of 1000 words a day, I got 100 pages done from the time I came up with the idea.

Consistency, in my mind, is better than wild late night sprints staying up until all hours working–and then crashing for days.  Consistency is the turtle, not the hare.

Here's a consistency story for you:

In November of 2007, I left a comment on a blog about Zen practice.  I'd found the blog and "met" its owner through what was then a hot site for bloggers called BlogCatalog.  (Many of my initial online friends and blog readers came from this site.  This was before Twitter, before Pinterest, before Instagram, and one year after Facebook opened its doors to all comers, not just college students.)  The blog's owner, Derek Ayre, a Welshman, emailed me and thanked me for the comment.  I emailed back.

A pen-pal friendship across the oceans was born.

At first we wrote every day.  Then we wrote every other day. Now we write each other about once a week, though sometimes life gets in the way on either end and it turns out to be weeks before one of us answers the other.  

But here's the deal: we always answer each other eventually.  Because the pen-pal friendship is important to us.   And so we are consistent with it.

(I have a bit of an ulterior motive in mentioning Derek because he's got a guest post coming up here on Tuesday and I wanted to spend more time introducing him than a short bio would allow.)

If, at any point in the past six years that we've been corresponding, one or the other of us became inconsistent, the friendship would have died.  But we've been consistent in honoring our email friendship and the result is a connection I treasure.

So, yeah, if you're looking for a good buzz word for 2014, you could do worse than to choose consistency, my friends.

What are you consistent about?  Your writing? Something else?  Please comment.

(And come back Tuesday for Derek's post.)

Photo by 416Style.

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