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The Four Agreements- Not those Four Agreements, by My Four Agreements

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Currently, I am participating in a wonderful Akimbo Workshop called Writing in Community. The goal of the workshop is to write a book and publish it on the Kindle Platform. Each day we write and submit to the platform. This is one of the posts that I wrote as I was working through the commitment that I am making for the next few months with the goal of publishing the book- I have read the book the four agreements, and owe this post to Austin Kleon. I am stealing like an artist- I wrote this post 12 days ago- I am leaving it as is without edits.

Today is Saturday, and I am winding down my set up process. Soon I will begin to write pages. When I took Seth Godin’s Altmba, I remember him talking about having a process, using formula’s and being a professional. I apply this to my writing—the lessons I take away from Seth- The work matters, and ship daily. Before I begin to write pages, I need to make agreements with myself. I have four agreements.

Agreement One- Get a process for daily writing.
When I do Nanowrimo, I follow a math formula for my daily writing-
I put in the following process. For Nanowrimo- The goal was to write 50,000 words in 30 days, – So I made a mathematical formula-
50,000 words.
30 days
1667 words a day.
After this, I just sat down and wrote until I hit 1667 words.
I took me between 40-45 minutes a writing session to do that. Now I had a baseline, I would just write. I gave myself the flexibility to write whenever I wanted and would split things into sections. I would write extra on the weekend and give myself a cushion when I needed to take a day off. The key for me is this is a marathon, and I need to pace myself.
I am going to follow a similar formula. Still, I am not going to be going for word count. I am going to build around 30 days of writing, the reflection, then 30 more days, I take time to reflect and revise my systems based on how the workshop is set up.

Agreement Two – Reject the Resistance. I took a Screenwriting Program, and The model was The Secret To Writing is Writing. Here is my perspective.
If I have 15 minutes a day, I can either sit and think or write something. I basically have two choices, write or don’t write. I can only fill the 15 minutes with one, but not both. A junky page is better than an empty page. Someone can give you feedback on your writing if you produce it, no one can provide you with feedback on a blank page. Basically, the little voice in my head is wrong. If the low voice talks me out of writing, I need to own it and call it what it is. I didn’t write today. That’s it.

I know a lot of people here read Seth’s work. I have heard Seth telling other people not to give in to the Resistance, but I can’t recall a post where he talks non-stop about his Resistance and then uses it to take a day off, or skips a project, maybe I am wrong. This is why I reject the Resistance. The Resistance exists, but to me, it is not a voice I need to follow.
I have been in so many writing classes, and o many people would show up without work done, without pages. They would complain about being overwhelmed. Which is fine, everyone gets it from time to time. What shocked me is that these workshops cost money. I know it was none of my business, but I was like, wow, you must have it good to show up with nothing done week after week after the financial investment you made. The financial investments I made at times, were a sacrifice. I owed it to my wife to make sure I gave a hundred percent, even today when I have more disposable income, I need to give 100 percent because the money used in a workshop can still be used elsewhere.
I need to remember the primary goal .- I am here to write and publish a book. I will be a generous person by giving feedback, receiving feedback, and making friends. Yet if I am not writing my book, then I am in a social club. Which is fine. Just own it. I make a commitment to myself that I am going to finish this book, and if I don’t, then it will be because of situations that are out of my control.

Agreement Three- I write out of order. In my writing, I get stuck, but my mind isn’t blank. It still has a ton of ideas running around, so I write them. I tell myself that I am doing the writing process, and putting the story in order is part of the editing process. This happens in movies all the time. Things are left on the cutting room floor, or they end up in the director’s cut special edition, which is odd. Why do more money pay for rejected material? Back to 15 minutes of writing or a blank page, I can write my way out of anything; attempting to think my way out of a problem leads to anxiety then I find my way back to the couch or the fridge. So I Choose writing. I tell myself, so what if I am undisciplined or not following conventions or a textbook? An undisciplined writer is still a writer. If I decide to sit on the couch watching TV but not produce pages, well, how can I be a writer? Writers write. I am not talking about resting, or anti tv watching or anti couch. I have the UFC on right now on my IPAD as I write, but the difference is I am writing.

Agreement Four- Embrace and Celebrate my quirks and weirdness.
Back to Seth and Altmba for this one- From the Art of Possibility- Remember Rule Number 6. Don’t take yourself so seriously. I don’t have a contract waiting for me, and I am not trying to use this book to pay rent or fund my app, get clients, or build my email list. I am merely taking a workshop and writing a book. After this course, I will retake TMS and then work on my email list. For now, my quirks include the anchors that help me write- For example – I have a squishy Eleven figure; if you watch Stranger Things, you know who Eleven is. I also have a Black Panther figure on my desk. These superheroes and they inspire me. For fun, I have an hourglass. I stole this from Elizabeth Gilbert. I use the hourglass to time my daily writing from time to time.

There it is Agreements. Agreements I make with myself to prepare myself to get down to writing pages.

 

Comments

  1. Thanks for putting these here, Steven. Yes to all four. I especially love 3 and 4. I think you can build them all out — it would be interesting to hear what each agreement does in terms of your practice and experience of writing. Here are the commitments; here’s what happens. Are 1 & 2 two sides of the same thing? Do you need another agreement to step back and see what’s emerging and put the out-of-order things in their provisional places? To rest from your daily labour and admire the pattern you’re making?

  2. Hey Steven, As always it is great to read your writing about writing. Thanks for sharing your four agreements for Writing in Community. I really like how you’ve reinforced along the way that we each can have our own agreements and the important thing is to own it. I have been thinking more deeply about my own writing process reading your different posts, and it has helped me to see how having my coloured pens on my desk is part of the creative process and how I formulate ideas then get them on to the page in a fast-paced writing session. Thank you.

  3. “A junky page is better than an empty page.” I need a poster of this! And I love your approach to not feeding the resistance. I try not to follow the seductive pit of despair that is rumination of resistance; I got to a point where I was tired of hearing my own excuses. I love your encouragement to take personal responsibility and own it.
    “Don’t take yourself so seriously,” is the best advice my dad every gave me. Thanks for reminding me.
    Your Four Agreements definitely have legs, even a future book! Thanks for sharing!

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