I thought I’d never realize my dream of publishing a book. Then everything changed.
I was almost 30, and I still wasn't any closer to achieving my dream of writing and publishing a novel.
I'd been talking about it since I was a kid. I'd told all my friends I was going to be a published writer someday. And now the clock was ticking. There was just one problem.
I didn't have a book. And I wasn't writing.
But then everything changed.
Having a published book by 30 was an arbitrary milestone. One of those things you tell yourself when you're younger: If I don't have a book by the time I'm 30, I'm going to be really disappointed in myself.
It was arbitrary, but it was enough to get me off my butt and writing. I started in November, which any writer knows is NaNoWriMo. My 30th birthday was less than 6 months away.
I'd done this before, of course. Committed myself to writing, to really doing it this time. Except, every time before, I'd failed. I worked really hard for a couple weeks, then gave up. Let creative resistance get the best of me.
But something was different this time.
I didn't give up. I kept going. I finished a book, then revised it, then sent it out to literary agents. Soon I had an agent representing me—and later (not by my 30th birthday, but not too long after), I had what I'd always dreamed of.
A book deal. A published book, with my name on it.
So, what was different this time?
The answer was simple: Design.
Without knowing it, I'd accidentally designed a system—a handful of habits, methods, and processes—that worked for me. I'd designed a writing practice, without knowing it.
I wasn't any more talented than I was before. I didn't have any more willpower than I did all those times I'd given up. I'd just stumbled into a personal system that worked for me. A system that kept me writing even when things got hard.
Now, I'm here to share what I've learned: that if you just know you're made for writing, but you're still not writing as much as you want to, your problem isn't willpower. It's design.
You haven't yet designed a writing life that works for you.