I just sent the final installment of the 10-week email series on Breaking Out of A Rut and using habits to change your life, and that’s made me think about writing.
I have struggled, long and hard, with two conflicting desires.
On the one hand, there is my desire to write, to create. This is a powerful desire within myself; I’ve always wanted to be an author, to influence people, to express myself.
On the other hand, there is an equally powerful desire, just as deeply-rooted. And that desire is to not write at all.
I think most people have a similar battle going on within themselves: a battle between their ideal selves and their pragmatic selves.
The ideal self says, “We must do all we can to actualize our most powerful dreams and desires. We must strive to be the best person we can: the most successful, the most influential.”
The pragmatic self says, “All that bullshit is a waste of time. Writing/working/creating takes energy, and we need to preserve energy in case we run out of food. Now, lay down and shut up.”
In any case, that’s what happens with me. It happens with everything: music, going to work, even hanging out with friends. Some part of me just wants to lay on the couch for eternity, and that part is very persuasive.
So. If we do actually want to do these things – create, write, influence others – how do we overcome our pragmatic selves? How do we convince ourselves to do the work?
I can tell you that, for me, willing myself to do it doesn’t help. Neither does visualization, or motivational speeches, or any of the other million things that authors and people with systems to sell will tell you to try.
The only thing that works is this:
1. Schedule a time to write, before anything else.
2. Write during that time.
I schedule a time: early morning, before work. I write in here on Wednesdays; I write other stuff on Mondays. I write for about 2 hours, then I move on to other things.
Do I always write for the entire 2 hours? No, but I usually do, because that’s my writing time.
Do I finish everything? No. Is everything great? No.
But I produce far more than most people, and I do it consistently. Every day gets a little better, the process a little easier.
It isn’t up for debate. Nothing else is grabbing my attention. Nothing else is competing for my focus.
Monday, Wednesday. 6:30 to 8:30. Writing time.
If there’s something you want to do, but can’t seem to get your pragmatic self to join in, try setting a schedule. Start early.
You’ll be amazed at what you turn out.
P.S. If you’re interested in taking the course, I’ll have the whole thing automated soon. In the meantime, you can sign up to be alerted when I have everything set. Thanks!