It’s Not Automatic. It’s Effort.

The Seven of Wands is about defending your accomplishments.

I can hardly believe I’ve been writing this blog for four years now.

My first article, published on June 7th of 2014, is just 650 words (and not very good words at that). But it took me nearly four hours to write, edit, and publish.

Since then, a lot of things have changed.

It doesn’t take me quite as long to publish 650 words—it takes about 2-3 hours (depending on the article). The quality of the writing is much improved (and will continue to improve). Even the focus of my writing isn’t the same as it once was.

But other things haven’t changed a bit.

Aside from these past three weeks, a month-long hiatus in early 2017, and a short stint of publishing every other week, I’ve written and released a new article every Monday since June of 2014. You might assume it’s gotten easier over time. But the truth is—it hasn’t. Each of those 196 posts took an incredible amount of effort to think up, write down, edit, and release.

Three weeks ago, when I began my blog-cation, I expected the ideas to flow. I was certain that, by the time I returned from my honeymoon, I’d be bursting with new thoughts, eager to share them with you. But that couldn’t be farther from the truth. In fact, I spent much of the nine-hour plane ride home trying to come up with any idea at all. Desperately thinking through any lessons I’d learned in the last three weeks. Dreading having to write my first post back. For a minute (just kidding…for a week) I fantasized about taking a break from this blog…forever.


Sometimes, ideas do magically appear, like when you’re in the shower, washing dishes, or on a walk. But more often than not, ideas require a routine—they require reading, time, effort, focus, and most importantly, momentum. As Jerry Seinfeld says, they require a chain:

“After a few days you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain.”

Every Monday provides another link in the chain, but adding new links has never been easy. It has never been automatic. It always requires a certain amount of effort. But what I hadn’t realized was how much extra effort it would require to restart the chain after breaking it. I’m reminded of Tyler Cowan’s writing advice:

“My biggest piece of advice is simply to get something written every day. No matter what, whether you are traveling or not. No matter where you are or what you are otherwise doing. The enemy of academic or writing productivity is ‘days spent doing nothing,’ not ‘I didn’t get enough written today.’

Breaks aren’t bad. New experiences aren’t bad. Being present in the moment (and not worrying about your blog) isn’t bad. And I don’t regret taking some time away from the computer to enjoy one of the biggest events of my life. Maybe I didn’t come home with 10 new blog ideas, but that’s not to say I didn’t learn anything. I just learned something I wasn’t expecting:

venice gondolas

The machine won’t run without you. If you let it lie fallow, even if it’s just a couple of weeks, you have to dust off the cobwebs and rev it back up.

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