Entry 13: Inspiration from the Greats


Editor’s Note: This is the 13th installment in Van Jackson’s daily writing journal, “Nuke Your Darlings,” which tracks his six-month battle to write a new book on North Korea. Will he meet his deadline?


It was a good writing weekend and a good start to the new year. I read and re-read my draft chapters so far to take stock of my progress. Made minor revisions as I reviewed the manuscript though, which caused me to delete a few hundred words. I ended the weekend with a net additional 1400 words or so. I am close to finishing this chapter. Like the other chapters though, I left holes I’m going to have to go back and fill in later.

I’ve gotten a lot of moral support both for the book writing and for the #NukeYourDarlings series, but I sometimes need to remind myself why I believe I can do this. Putting aside the various advantages I have (covered in my first entry), there are a number of models of success that confirm it can be done.

Edward Luce didn’t start The Retreat of Western Liberalism until after President Trump’s election yet had the book on store shelves by spring 2017. Bob Kaplan has written what seems like a book every year since the 1990s, and they’ve mostly been best-sellers and award-winners. And John Steinbeck aimed to write 2,000 words per day when writing The Grapes of Wrath. Though he sometimes fell short of that mark, he often exceeded it, and went on to write that massive novel over the course of a single season.

Am I in the same category as these guys? Not yet, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try.

Am I crazy? Maybe, but I have a hunch I can do this. That I’m still roughly on track with my writing progress affirms that, for now.


Van Jackson is a senior editor at War on the Rocks.

Image: Jill Cardy, CC