Sunday, March 10, 2013

How To Write Every Day, Prologue: It’s Been a Hell of a Month

Funny story: A month ago, my weight loss and sweats returned. Two weeks ago, a PET scan indicated a 50/50 chance that my cancer was back.  Last week, I had a biopsy in the OR. Three days ago, around noon, my oncologist called me to tell me the results: Yes, sadly, the cancer had returned. But wait… two hours later, after the full pathologist’s report arrived, he called back and said that actually no, it wasn’t cancer after all--just an infection that has now passed and I’m totally fine.


Long-time readers will recall that the last time things went wrong, it snuffed out a hot streak in my career.  That was hardly a danger this time, but this latest scare also seemed to me to be particularly ill-timed, because even though I have very little career heat right now, I am doing two things better than I ever have before: writing steadily everyday, and moving seamlessly from project to project.

Of course, if you’ve been following my progress in the sidebar, you know that I’ve been sort of making a mockery of the concept: I’ve been forcing myself to write at least a page a day, but the result that been that I’ve been writing precisely one page a day.  To a certain degree, that’s because of my infection (my oncologist blames my flu shot) and the resulting flurry of tests and uncertainty, but that’s not entirely it…

You’re recall that the last time I tentatively broached this subject, I was forcing myself to write 3-8 pages a day.  But I soon discovered that I couldn’t even keep up with that longer than a month.  I still needed to feel “inspired” to write those three pages, and inspiration can’t last forever.

It was only once I got down to one page that true force of habit kicked in.  I discovered that, no matter how busy or stressed I was in any given day, if I just had to write one, I could still do it, just to say I hadn’t broken the streak.  And sure enough, as I predicted last time, the 21-day cliché kicked into gear.  It soon got to the point where it was painful to go to bed without dashing one off.

But now that I’m officially fine, starting today I’m once again holding myself to the standard to 3 to 8 pages a day, because I now feel that I have the additional resources I need to keep that going. This week, I’ll talk about some of the conclusions I’ve drawn that have enabled me to start forming better habits.


Jill Rasmussen said...

Whoah Matt. Must have been a stressful week! Glad to hear you're okay :)

j.s. said...

I'll second that. Very glad to hear that you're doing fine.

Unknown said...

Glad to hear you're doing well!

Elizabeth Fama said...

I didn't know about the original cancer event. I'm so sorry you had to go through that. I'm glad you're well and that this was a false alarm (but also a little miffed at the doctor for calling you without full results--sheesh).

Anonymous said...

Oh my God. I am so sorry, you had to go through this. And I am so glad to hear, you are okay!

JD Paradise said...

Glad to hear it was just a scare. It's not bad enough that you had to go through all the original terror, and the therapy and whatnot... but then you have to live with it over your head for the rest of your life.

Well, here's hoping that it's "only" scares from here on out.

Good on you for writing anyway.

Anonymous said...

Scary. stressful. Glad you're okay.