I’ve had a goal to write every day for much longer than I care to admit, without actually writing every day… in fact, it would be interesting to see how many of the days that I have professed that goal have been spent actively NOT writing.
Can you actively NOT write? Is it passively NOT writing? Maybe I am passive-aggressively NOT writing.
That idea makes me a little uncomfortable, because it’s probably true. I am passive aggressively avoiding the thing I have wanted my whole life. Who am I punishing? Myself. No one else. Well, maybe my family, too, since they get the brunt of my diminished good cheer, since NOT writing makes me NOT happy. And a NOT happy mom is a grumpy, snappish, moody mom.
So how to turn that determined NOT into just plain old writing?
Here are the thoughts scooting through my mind:
1. Ass, meet chair. Sit your butt down in front of the computer, preferably one not linked to the internet to avoid distraction. Do not get up until you have met my goals for the day.
2. Schedule a specific time in the day to get the writing done. Do not say that you will write “later” and think that you will actually sit down to do it, because “later” is never now.
3. Make sure that your scheduled writing time is rational. Are you saying that you scheduled time to write is while the kids are playing with cars on the kitchen floor? It ain’t gonna happen… at least not regularly and without interruption. You might be able to squeeze in a couple minutes here and there, but nothing sustained, nothing regular. Or for that matter, are you scheduling your writing at the end of the day, when you are so exhausted you can’t even form a coherent sentence? Or in the morning before coffee, heaven forfend? Know yourself and your life and be realistic with your goals.
4. Make sure your scheduled time is dedicated to the writing, not to making dinner, or spending time with family, or watching tv. Give yourself the gift of focusing on what you are doing. Realize that the commitment often means you have to let go of something else. Do you really need to check Facebook one more time to see how your Scrabble games are going?
5. Enlist others in your plans to write. If you have other people in your life who are cheering you on, it helps. If you are being held accountable to other people, you don’t want to let them down. If there are other people who need things from you, you need to have them on board, so you can get what you need, too. If you have a community that supports you, you can get farther than if you are going it alone. You don’t have to hide your activities. Be proud.
6. Set up a challenge for yourself. Either join a group where you need to produce something, or commit yourself to a personal challenge. Having to hand in a story every other week for a class or workshop means you’ve got a deadline. Doing something like nanowrimo.org means you are competing to meet deadlines and word counts. Maybe you can even set up your own goal…if you’re the type to live up to a challenge without other people egging you on. Give yourself consequences and a deadline; like…write one page a day for a month, or give up chocolate for a month.
7. Make sure your GOALS are rational. Don’t expect to go from zero to 10 pages a day just like that. It takes time to get those muscles working. Be kind to yourself, but don’t be a wimp. Allow yourself to take baby steps to get to your larger goals, allow yourself to fall backwards… but don’t allow yourself to stop moving forward. And don’t give up.
8. Write without stopping for small chunks of time. Set an alarm for fifteen minutes, and just don’t stop. Don’t stop to look up the spelling of something. Don’t stop to find the perfect word (leave it blank or use an imperfect word.) Don’t stop to get a drink of water. Don’t stop to wonder if this story makes sense or if you should write it at all or if you should ever pick up the pen again because you might be a total idiot. JUST DON’T STOP. You can go back over it when those fifteen minutes are over, but for those fifteen minutes, just write.
9. Develop new habits that get you in the writing state of mind. Putting on a special hat or taking out your good pens and note book. Making a certain tea. Setting up your desk space. Going for a walk to soothe your mind. Anything can become a personal ritual for getting your head in the writing space. And if it becomes habit enough, you will be like Pavlov’s dog: Whenever you smell that Jasmine Incense/taste that tea/put on the cardigan, your brain will start to get in gear for your writing habit.
10. And the sit your butt down in front of your work and do it. Yes, this was number one. It is number ten, too. This is the bottom (haha)line. You can talk about writing all you want, you can make plans and lists (yes, like this one.) You can do outlines and join groups, but the single most important thing to breaking through the NOT writing so you can start writing is to do it. Commit. Sit. Write.
Hello chair. Here comes my butt.
I will keep you posted.