I didn’t write yesterday. I intended to. I even kind of planned to. But I didn’t write. I got to the end of the day and the thought of writing consumed me for my last waking hours.
I did just say that I planned to write, but I didn’t really plan. I didn’t set a time, book an appointment with myself, get up earlier to get in some “me” time, or take a quiet moment for myself in the evening.
Instead, I worked from early in the morning. And when I took a break, I did things that were easy and distracting. (Right now, crocheting baby blankets is easy and distracting, methodically lulling me into a sense of doing something.)
But I didn’t think about what I’d write or plan what I’d write. I waited all day for inspiration to strike. I waited and read the news feeds and reports about coronavirus and shutdowns and declarations of states of emergency. I wanted that feeling like I had something to write about, that spark. But I didn’t sit down and write because when I did think of something to write, I was busy with chores, cooking dinner, wrangling my kids, washing dishes, etc., and when I finished those things, I had lost the spark. So I just waited for it to come back.
I know that to create a regular writing habit, I have to set the intention, make a plan and stick to it. I’ve read extensively on the subject; how writing regularly makes writing regularly easier. It’s the same with exercising. And I managed to create that habit last year, and I’ve stuck to it. And it’s easier now than it was when I started, and each day it gets easier, not just going down to my basement where my little home gym is, but also doing the exercises themselves. I have built stamina and strength and stability that would not have happened had I been hit or miss in my exercise schedule. So why is it so hard to do that with writing? I like writing more than I like exercising.
Time to introduce the “don’t break the chain” concept.
So, every day from today I will mark an X on the days that I write, with the intention of not breaking the chain. I believe it was Jerry Seinfeld who first said this was his method to getting more jokes written down.
I did it with my exercise routine and it worked. I also have to note here, though, that I am gentle with myself. I try my best not to break the chain, but some days are better than others. Some days I can work out at top capacity. Other days, I can barely walk on the treadmill for 20 minutes. That’s OK. I still put an X on my workout calendar. And writing will be the same. But what I want to point out and emphasize the most here is that I’m just a normal person who does not have it together, who is pretty lazy by my own definition, who procrastinates constantly, and who has almost reached middle age and, though I count myself lucky to have a good job, nice house, and a wonderful family and friends, I don’t feel that I did much to put those things in place.
I read often about hacking or engineering our lives, putting methods in place to be the best you, and I’m intrigued by these things. Can a regular, normal, mostly unambitious person accomplish great things? Or are there really people out there who are great to begin with and see their purpose and set their plans in motion based on their innate greatness and the rest of us are just filling up space on the planet, mostly happy, making the lives of our loved ones better even though we’re not great? Can we be great? Can we apply those methods so often written about to our lives and make our lives great? What does that look like?
What do you think?