There aren’t many tricks to writing, it’s as simple and complex as sitting your ass in a chair and letting it pour out. Simple, because there really isn’t much more to it than that, and complex, because getting to your laptop/notebook/chosen medium can be excruciatingly difficult.
I’ve been faced by this challenge many times. At the moment, I plan to write in the evenings, after I’ve taken a break from the tasks of the day, to sit down in my quiet room away from my cell phone and ahead of the sweet, blank thoughts of sleep. You may be able to pinpoint the issue here already: I need to stop relaxing to get to my chair to write before I go to sleep. Why not just keep chilling? I’ll be sleeping soon anyway, right? Not if the guilt monster has anything to say about it.
This often happens to me when finding ways to do other things that I know to be fulfilling: Taking walks, going to the gym, and going to church. In almost all of these cases, it may be easier to continue to do what one is doing and skip or put it off until a later time that never comes. I’m not sure if it’s specific to how my unique brain works, always striving for efficiency or productivity, or if this is a distinctly human problem. (Stay tuned as I continue to read books on how brains work and, hopefully, find out.)
Habits versus mental tricks
This is why my previous posts on the topic have been about building a habit. If I’m able to build a habit, it’s not something I think about. At the beginning of the pandemic, for example, I built a habit of walking on lunch. It was an amazing habit to form.
In contrast to building a whole-ass habit, I’ve employed two other ways to try and incentivize myself to do the things that really work for me and fulfill my soul.
- Do it once. If I can make myself do a thing once, chances are so good that I’ll remember that awesome feeling of having done it, and file that away for the next time. As an example, I have been going to cycle class at my gym on Monday evenings. I felt great afterward, I took a steam, it feels like a great way to end the first day of the week. And I can put all of those feelings to work when I think, on a random Monday, do I really have to go to cycle today? Well, I do if I want to feel the bliss.
- Overshoot the goal. If I sit down at the beginning of my week and plan to write every day of the week, when I’m able to get to it 2-3 times that week, it’s a win. I’ve accomplished my true goal of getting it on my to-do list and ensuring that I’m taking time for my creative projects. The rigidity of my scheduling allowed me to accomplish this, and yet the grace I give myself, that life happens and what is good enough, allows me to feel satisfied with what I’ve accomplished.
Space for grace
I don’t have it all together, though. I know that I can only build habits one at a time. I’m currently focused on ensuring that my basic life needs are met: fuel and movement. I’m relying on what I know about human psychology and how my own brain works to assume that by providing for my own basic needs, I’ll then have the physical, emotional, and mental space to tackle my passion projects. And, for now, that’s an OK place to be.
Next up: Get to Share Space! (Perhaps more on that in an upcoming post.)
What habits are you building? What tricks do you use to help achieve your goals?