Harry Smith

Just Shut Up and Do It - A Literay Experiment for 2023

I'm writing a long standing book idea, one page at a time for the whole of 2023!

TL;DR: I’m writing a book in public every day - follow this twitter account to follow the project.

I’ve always wanted to write a book. Not always the same book, but a book none the less. In 2021, I got quite close, fulfilling a life long ambition to finish the National Novel Writing Month. This scratched the itch, but didn’t rid me of it.

The idea of being a writer, or his much rarer cousin a published author, has a deep romance for me. Of all the arts, writing is the bloodiest and most gruelling. To emerge with a finished manuscript in hand means to have gone to war with your ego and won. It is a process that changes you forever. That will sound like hyperbole to anyone who has never attempted any serious writing. If anything, it’s an underestimation by half.

Like any aspiring writer I have a back catalogue of ideas that I muse away on. Projects too intimidating, too complex or too fearsome to attempt on paper. That’s the way that many great works stay, an idea in the mind of its creator. I am not passing judgement, because I too am afflicted with this paralysis. To start the task I’ll have to deconstruct the imaginary Magnus Opus in my mind. And get to work.

I’ve read a lot of books. A lot of them on how to improve your life. How to be happy. How to be productive. How to get rich. How to eat better, sleep more and worry less. At best these books contain half a dozen useful ideas, and at worst they don’t even contain one. You could condense most of them to a single page and lose nothing. Five hours of reading for five minutes of wisdom.

A more effective format is the category of ‘page a day’ books. The author hands you a small piece of an idea every day. The idea being that by exposing you to the ideas over the course of a year, they’ll have more impact. I’ve found that to be true. And it got me thinking. Why isn’t there a similar book that tried to present as many possible ideas for improvement? To take all these ‘single ideas turned into a book’ concepts, and package them up as short daily actions. Not every idea would work for every person. But over the course of a year enough ideas would stick to transform your life.

Needless to say, I’ve thought about the book for a lot longer than I’ve spent writing it. Which is none at all, by the way.

For 2023, I’ve had an idea to crack the task of writing such a manuscript. It is to write the book exactly as you read one - one day, and step, at a time. The project taking exactly as long to write it’s first draft as it would to read it. And the twist - to do the whole thing in public.

The project is quite the undertaking. To do it in hopes of it getting published would be ridiculous. The industry is a feast or famine russian roulette. The chances of financial success are vanishingly small. But that isn’t why I’m doing it. It’s the challenge of coming up with 365 individual, concrete steps towards a better life. There is no way that creating such a list wouldn’t also improve my own life. At a minimum, it will be of benefit to me. And being of benefit to one person is more than enough reason to get on with it.

The public nature of the writing is essential to the project. Ideas are a pound a penny. Most of the steps wont be very good, at least not in their first revision. By writing and releasing every day I can battle test them. Improve them. Only the best ideas will survive.

The project starts tomorrow, on new years day. I can’t predict all the obstacles ahead, but I’m confident I can see this through to the end of the year. I’m committed to at least writing all 365 steps. And if no one likes it? I’ll be no worse off for trying.

You can follow that twitter account here: https://twitter.com/jstshtupanddoit

The best way to support my writing is to sign up to my mailing list!

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