Tony Wolski

Don't put up a zero


At the start of September I set myself a target of publishing two blog posts per week, on Tuesday and Friday. It didn’t matter what they were, I just had to ship something. The intention, I kept reminding myself, is to build the habit of writing, and not to worry about the quality of what I’m putting out. If I kept at it, by the end of September I’d have eight posts under my belt. By the end of the year, thirty-six. In ten years time, if I maintain the same schedule, I will have published over a thousand posts, and by then I will have improved and, in the process, learned a thing or two about writing.

It has been anything but easy. Tuesdays and Fridays have been tough slogs, consisting of long hours spent writing and rewriting, and then rewriting some more. I find it an arduous task to put into words what I’m finding interesting and learning, all the while trying to block out the fear of what people will think. I have to keep telling myself I’m writing for me, not for anyone else.

And then life goes and gets in the way. You’ve got this thing that you’re committed to but along comes a day when the weight of the world is on your shoulders, the universe urging you to lay down and give up. A headache. A sickness. An argument with your partner. Whatever. The last thing you want to do is get to work. This is how I feel today. It’s Friday and I have to ship, but the last thing I feel like doing is sitting down to write.

But on my walk home I remembered two things I read recently which compelled me to type out these words. The first was something James Clear wrote about in Atomic Habits.

This is why the “bad” workouts are often the most important ones. Sluggish days and bad workouts maintain the compound gains you accrued from previous good days. Simply doing something — ten squats, five sprints, a push-up, anything really — is huge. Don’t put up a zero. Don’t let losses eat into your compounding.

The second was pretty much everything I read in The War of Art

The amateur, underestimating Resistance’s cunning, permits the flu to keep him from his chapters; he believes the serpent’s voice in his head that says mailing off that manuscript is more important than doing the day’s work.

The professional has learned better. He respects Resistance. He knows if he caves in today, no matter how plausible the pretext, he’ll be twice as likely to cave in tomorrow.

Maybe with time these lessons will fade and I will once again become the person that postpones or lets excuses win out. But not today. Today I choose to turn up. I may have problems on my plate, and it may be incoherent drivel I’m putting out, but today I’m putting two index fingers up to the universe accompanied by a big fuck you! I win. I don’t submit. Today I’m not the person who lets life or circumstances get the better of him. Nope, today I’m the person that publishes a blog post on a Friday.

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