I have been neglecting this blog for several weeks, but I assure you, I am still writing. A few weeks ago, I dreamed up the premise to a novel (almost literally, for the characters came to me in the almost-dreaming state just before I fully succumbed to sleep). Since then, I have spent most of my free time writing fiction, researching the portion of history I want to write about, and pinning a multitude of writing tips to my Pinterest wall.

Sadly, I have not done a lot of reading. I did listen to The Scarlet Pimpernel again – and watched the movie too. I also listened to Cousin Phyllis by Elizabeth Gaskell. And I started two books – an audio version of Persuasion by Jane Austin and the novel The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. I’m not done with those, but I suppose I have done a little reading.

But mostly I’ve been writing and neglecting this blog.

Which brings me to why I am writing this post. You already saw the title: “Do Something Hard”. For me, that has been committing to writing every day and determining to finishing the story I started. I took a week off (of writing) because I felt like I was at a dead end. I used that time to rest my brain and find more writing tips. When I picked back up, I used those tips and have seen good progress come from it.

Several years ago, I did another hard thing. I determined to read Les Miserables by Victor Hugo all the way through, unabridged. Hugo is a hard author to read. He spends pages on scenes and backstories that make you wonder how they could possibly tie into the story. For example, in the volume I read, there were forty pages on the Battle of Waterloo. Good stuff, but why? I kept thinking – until I reached the end of those forty pages and found the connection. Wow. It took me exactly six months to finish Les Miserables. When I finished it, I felt like I had lost friends. I kept reliving my favorite scenes and talking about them to anyone who would listen. It was the hardest book I’ve ever read, and it was totally worth it.

So, what hard book is on your shelf? Pick it up; determine to finish it, no matter how long it takes.

Do you have a story in your head? Write it down. Put it on paper before you forget. Determine to tell your story, no matter how long it takes you to finish it.

Sure, you’re busy. So am I. I’m writing my novel on lunch breaks and late at night. Tolkien went to war. Anna Sewell was bedridden and died young, never knowing how dearly the world would love her one novel, Black Beauty. You may not have tomorrow, or you may have a thousand tomorrows. It doesn’t matter until you determine to do that hard thing.

Paint a picture. Join a choir. Learn an instrument. Audition for a play.

Don’t worry about how long it will take or how tiring it is. It took Hugo sixteen years to write Les Miserables. Tolkien wrote The Hobbit in less than three years, then it took him twelve more years to write The Lord of the Rings. But both finished, and both are loved by the world for their works.

Your reward may not be world renown, but you can still have the reward of knowing you did something hard, and you finished it.

And so I say again: Do something hard.