Step 1: Be honest.
“I’m not saying your writing is bad, it’s just hard to read.”
-Emily, being pretty honest
Jack has tragically awful writing skills. Dear Reader, please stifle whatever instinct, whatever internal sense of manner or politeness makes you doubt what we tell you: his writing skills are so irrefutably poor that it has changed our lives. You’ll recall that we moved to the east coast so that Jack could go to law school in DC? That’s because he wanted to personally impact public policy regarding online privacy rights by starting a career where 99% (give or take) of his work would be huge legal memos and briefs. Every part of that plan was working out better than expected until it came to learn how to write legal memos and briefs.
He left law school and it took him some time to deal with the disappointment. It took a great deal of effort to even come up with the language to describe how 2016 went for us. So many unfavorable changes happened that year that it devastated our 2017. That’s when we were finally able to make a plan to change everything we needed to about our lives, including creating one where Jack’s writing skills don’t matter for his career.
During that time we’ve had to face very difficult emotional challenges together. That has required us to be honest with ourselves about our needs and about our feelings.
Jack: “I like the opening that I wrote better.”
Emily: “But you’re wrong.”
Facing those emotional challenges has also required that we be honest with each other. As you can see, we have absolutely nailed it.
Step 2: Be vulnerable.
The first draft of some of our posts look dramatically different from what we eventually published. Some drafts lasted minutes before being finalized, some drafts were started weeks before we posted them. When the editing process goes smoothly, it’s because we’ve both reached a place where we can trust the other person enough to show them the parts that are imperfect.
Jack: I would say that the bulk of my notes and proposed edits are for Emily to punch up her language a bit, especially when talking about herself. She describes herself differently than I describe her.
On our best days, criticism doesn’t feel like criticism. We’ve shown each other what it looks like when we leave our comfort zones to learn more about the world and the people around us. When we started reading books together, it was for fun. Our most recent book we started reading together is non-fiction, and it regards human suffering. Our world is imperfect and we don’t have a solution for some really important problems yet. That’s difficult to confront on your own, let alone having someone you love watch you clumsily learn.
Step 3: Be punctual.
Things are gonna happen, and when they do you’re either going work together or you’re not. Your spouse is going to be able to rely on you or they’re not.
We spent more on a house than we could afford. We knew this was more than either one of us could handle, but we also knew this was a challenge that we would be handling together. No shade to people who got married when they were younger than we were, but we had each already lived on our own as adults for years and years before we lived our lives together. We know what we can do on our own, and it turns out there’s all sort of things we couldn’t do until we were a team!
Emily had done this blog challenge in previous years and before we even started attempted to establish a schedule that would get our posts out in a timely manner. She’s the timekeeper, always has been: (Tells Jack a movie starts 20 minutes before it actually does, so we can get their on time. That no longer works since he has been employed at a movie theater). So, when we got behind, and even missed an entire day, we both had to be understanding of the process as a whole.
But seriously, if you’re gonna blog, chill out on the schedule because you’re gonna fall behind, and you’re not going to catch up. You’ll try, but you won’t, so be serious about writing ahead of time instead of just on time.