Tag Archives: writing routine

Just start

Staring at a blank page is a scary thing. Lately, thinking of even opening a blank page is scary. Why is that?

Writing is hard, says the voice in my head.

What goes on inside the mind on those days (weeks, months) when nothing seems to connect? What is the mind seeking? What does the mind fear? What prevents the connections of creativity from coming together?

It is that the mind is seeking that is the problem. Stop seeking and just write.

Positive thinking is helpful. Don’t get stuck in a rut in the first place is also helpful. But what if I can’t avoid it?

What if the ideas aren’t flowing when I sit down to write? What if the fear engulfs me and I can barely breathe? What if just remembering all those techniques that I know will help is what the mind is struggling with?

What if you just start anyway?

Ha! If you can just start anyway, you’re a step ahead of me. But wait, I did just start. I’m writing right now.

So it is the negative thoughts that hold me back? If I had just thought positively about my experience of writing, if I had just let myself feel the joy I get from writing, I would have started so much earlier? Is that how it works? Nah. Too simple. I’ve been fighting this for weeks.

Develop a habit, then.

Develop a habit? Like, get up 10 minutes earlier every morning and open my notebook and take my pen in hand and put it on the page and just let the words flow out of me whatever they are?

Yes. Don’t write when you have something to say. Don’t wait for an idea or a reason to write. And don’t expect to share it or publish it. Just write because you like to write.

But what if I want to share it? What if my aim is to have a blog filled with interesting and witty pieces that others enjoy reading?

That will come.

What if it doesn’t?

Do you think not writing will give you the result you’re seeking?

No, obviously. But…

‘What ifs’ and ‘buts’ are your enemy. Name them. Invite them in and sit with them. They will reveal themselves to you as the very demons that hold you back and keep you down. You will not enjoy their company for long. When you have had enough of them, ask them politely to leave. They have no place here. You are too busy writing.

So, I should meditate on this? Spend some time in quiet reflection, sitting with my demons, letting them in, experiencing their company so that I can know them?

Yes.

But that’s as hard as writing. I sit every morning and the most I’ve accomplished is a series of loving kindness meditations to help like myself better.

That’s a start. It’s important to like yourself. But you’re listening to someone else tell you how to like yourself. Have you sat in silence and listened for your voice?

Do you mean, have I listened for you? Who are you?

I am you.

Then why are you so calm? Why aren’t you always freaking out about everything that needs to get done and all the time on this earth that you’re wasting because you can’t get out of your own way?

I live in a different world. I am internal. You, I really, have crafted a world where I exist as a writer. Where I meditate daily and for long stretches until I am ready to get off the cushion, where I write uninterrupted and with passion whenever I feel like writing, which is often. This is a world where I’m not torn in different directions by outside forces. I live in a world where everything is perfectly aligned with my goals to create.

That sounds wonderful. Can I come in?

No. You are us in the external world. You have competing priorities and many other benefits in your world: family, friends, work, entertainment, nature, beauty. Do not wish to leave those things. They are inspiring.

But all that distraction kills my writing.

No, it doesn’t. You must look at it as inspiring. You have seen this before. You have connected two ideas in a book you have read with an article you found online and it inspired you to write for hours. Do you remember?

Yes, that was a creativity charged moment. I felt so alive!

You can feel that again. But you must first sit quietly with why you are not doing that. I understand you’re busy. That’s why I suggested the writing habit. It’s boring and routine, but necessary when you live out there.

You’re right. Of course you are. Sounds like you have time to figure these things out. I wish I did.

You will figure it out as you write. Just start.

Pushing Past

I recently read a book that talked about “stretch goals.” That’s setting a goal and then moving the target date closer to the start date by a bit to see if you can stretch yourself to reach the goal sooner.

Great idea.

I’m a goal setter. Unfortunately, not a goal achiever. But that’s just the story I tell myself. Everyone can achieve a goal they set for themselves. It’s not the goal that’s the problem. It’s the steps we take to reach the goal. And that’s where I fall down.

I make big plans with giant steps and get discouraged early on that I’m not achieving what I set out to achieve and my goal keeps getting farther and farther out of my reach.

There are tons of books on this subject (and I’ve read a lot of them). Some of the theories work for me for a while. But as so often happens…life takes over. Except when it doesn’t.

I track a lot of my progress in my journal (sometimes I’m not writing about my progress, though, as much as I’m lamenting my laziness and how far away my goals seem). I can look back and read about how far I’ve come or analyze how many times I whined about my progress/goal/busy chaotic life/barriers to achievement/and more. Trouble is, I don’t like looking back. I won’t like what I see because I know it’s a lot of excuse making. But sometimes…

Sometimes it’s different. Every now and again, a goal and its plan will stick. These are usually small goals, simple tasks, not mentally taxing to plan for or do, and I achieve these goals.

For example, I decided at the beginning of July to follow the advice of some author I’d read about just setting an intention. Don’t do anything else; just set the intention. So my intention was to put on my running shoes and to go to my gym in my basement every morning, every day. Just put on my runners and go downstairs. Once I got down there, I could turn around and come back up if I wanted to. I gave myself permission to do nothing down there. But once I laced up my runners and went downstairs, it seemed silly to me not to lift a few weights or walk on the treadmill. So I did a bit of a workout. Ten minutes, that’s it. And the next day I went downstairs before my kids woke up and did the same thing. And the next day and the next day. The next thing I know, here we are at July 31st.

Halfway through the month, I printed off a yearly calendar and started making an X over each day that I went downstairs; not each day that I worked out, just that I went downstairs to my gym. But every day, I did a workout, and every day I got a bit stronger and a bit more enthused about exercising. And I started to push myself a bit harder. (I’m not talking Schwarzenegger here, just a couple more reps or a slightly heavier weight or one extra minute on the treadmill. I pushed past my comfort zone, cozy and small though it was.)

I didn’t even realize that I was sticking to this little plan that I had set in motion because during that time I had stopped journaling quite so regularly because I was trading in a bit of my writing time to stay in the basement and use my exercise equipment. I still wrote almost every day (because I always have; that habit is well-ingrained), I just didn’t spend as much time at it. I wish I had now; that’s something I would have gone back and read. What I was discovering though was…

Going down to the basement every morning and subsequently working out was making me think more clearly. And I realized that what I wanted and what I needed was to write more and be more healthy. I’d known that for a long time, but now I felt it at my core. And that clarity of thought and my improved strength and mobility translated into better eating habits and better mental habits (I am no longer beating myself up when I indulge in delicious, rich foods and drink on the weekends with friends; I’m simply enjoying and appreciating the moments of indulgence for what they are: moments of indulgence.)

And with all that self-awareness, I’m improving my meditation practice, my writing practice, my emotion management and my overall sense of well-being.

All of that just because I decided to go down to my basement every morning.

I’ve read extensively on this method of goal setting: focusing on the “how” not the “why” or the “what.” I’ve tried the method before. I’m not sure why I decided to stick with it this time. I’m exploring that now. And with each morning workout, I know I’ll get closer to the answer.