The Power of an Hour: How I turned my Lunch Break into a Novel

I’ve previously written about the Power of an Hour, where I said that in order to achieve a long-term goal, it’s best to break it down.  Maybe you want to get in shape, learn a foreign language, or master a musical instrument.  Although none of these goals can be accomplished overnight, you can gradually work towards them by dedicating an hour to them each day.

Currently, I have two long-term goals:

  1. Learn to play piano, and
  2. Publish a novel.

Both of these goals are works-in-progress, that are likely to be unfinished for some time.  The cool thing is that I can demonstrate my piano-playing progress using YouTube videos.

The video below was recorded two years ago.  I remember how it took several takes to finally record the song without making a mistake:

The next video was recorded this morning.  In two years I got a new apartment, a new instrument, and a new haircut — but the most important difference is the difference in my skill level:

Although I’m still a far ways away from being a famous concert pianist, I performed all of these songs in a single take, and made only a few minor errors.  You can tell by the difference in my expression from the first video that I’m not concentrating as hard, I’m simply letting the music come out of me.

As far as I can tell, this is the only way to achieve results when tasking yourself with a long-term goal.  I remember wanting to sit down at a piano for the first time and play something immediately.  I wanted to start off running, when I hadn’t even learned to crawl yet.  It simply can’t be done — you’ve got to put in the hours first.

If you’re a constant reader of my blog, then you know I want to be a writer.  I want to publish a book someday, and I desperately want to finish at least one of the many fiction stories I’ve started.

There is no other way for me to achieve this dream than to knuckle down and write the whole story.  When I tell people what I’m trying to do and they respond with “You know, I’ve always wanted to write” I can’t help but grind my teeth — the thing that’s stopping them from writing is the exact same thing that’s stopping me: the lack of actually writing.

If you want to be a writer, there’s only one way to do it:  One word at a time, and one word after another.  Do this consistently for a long enough period of time, and you’re bound to reach the end of a story.  If I could manage to accomplish that, then I could get on to the re-write/edit part of the process, and perhaps then call something a “completed work.”

The good news is that my new job grants me a better work/life balance.  I’m working fewer hours. The work is less stressful. I get home earlier.  I won’t have to work from home each night.  Consequently, I’ll have more time for writing.

As an added bonus, I get an hour for lunch every day.  As strange as it seems to be excited about such a simple thing, I’ve never had a job that allowed such a luxury.  I’ve always worked jobs that required a rushed lunch, a “work while you’re eating” lunch, or a skipped lunch.

On my first day, I finished lunch within ten minutes.  I sat still for a moment, wondering what to do with my remaining time.  It took maybe ten seconds before I had a notepad out and my pen was racing across it.

I remember reading about some famous author who started the exact same way — writing an hour each day during his lunch hour.  Perhaps I will achieve the same goal that he did someday.  After all, I’ve been in the habit of writing during my lunch break for just one week, and I almost have two chapters written.

So yes, the “Novel” I mention in the title of this article is unfinished — just like every other novel I’ve started.  I have faith that if I keep up with this new habit, I’m likely to complete a story in another six months to a year.

I’m bound to end up with something, so long as I put in the time — because that’s the power of an hour.

If you've found this website helpful, please click the PayPal button. You will be helping me pursue my dream career as a writer. Thanks for your support!

4 Responses to “The Power of an Hour: How I turned my Lunch Break into a Novel”

#1 Digitist on 04, Aug, 2009 at 5:26 am

Read up on this item:

It’s good to have long term goals, but keep in mind you learn to enjoy the road to fulfilling your goals.

I write technical articles for a bi-monthly magazine since 2006 and do just what you do. One word at the time gets an article, or in your case a novell, written.

#2 Laura on 12, Aug, 2009 at 5:28 pm

I’m glad to see you’re finding the time, Shaun. 🙂

Best of luck to both of you, as always!

#3 holymotherofgod on 22, Sep, 2009 at 11:21 pm

Hi- just a random online stranger wandering through your blog!! Can’t remember what I searched but somehow lifereboot popped up. Anyhoo just reading your lamentations about being a creative soul stuck in an unfulfilling job. Being a fellow right brainer, I hear you. I wonder if you have considered writing ebooks? Why not?

#4 anthony on 25, Oct, 2009 at 12:39 pm

“So yes, the “Novel” I mention in the title of this article is unfinished — just like every other novel I’ve started. I have faith that if I keep up with this new habit, I’m likely to complete a story in another six months to a year.”

As I replied in your “Sometimes done…” article, set a date, not “a likely to complete in 6 months to a year.”

Also don’t think of it as a habit, its the necessary steps to completion, a commitment to attaining your goal.

Specific – a novel
Measurable- 90 pages per week/reviewed monthly/3 months of writing-3/months editing.
Attainable- yes
R- yes
T- 6 months to completion. Date due Mar 2010
Creative soul stuck in an unfulfilling job. Then use your creativity and get out of it. AND no excuses why you can’t. If you cannot find a solution you are not creative. OUCH

Talk is cheap unless its a lawyer. As Nike says “DO IT”
or if you prefer Yoda “Do or do not, there is no try”

Leave a Reply