Many of us have a regimen that we follow: writing so many words per day, posting two blogs a week, or writing an hour every morning. We work on these each day in spite of obstacles that get thrown our way so our writing habits remain vibrant and productive.
But when we miss a day, it throws off our entire flow. The habit is not sitting there waiting for us when we come back, and it suddenly becomes that much harder to find it.
Not only that but we have to make up our targets for the week. We have to once again build up what were carefully creating. The endeavor feels daunting, and we easily feel overwhelmed.
I was in this conundrum a few weeks ago, when I missed my first deadline for Writing Without Pants. I missed the deadline by five days, and those were five days that I was not working on deadline #4.
I met Deadline #4 for this last week, but I had to bust out my chapter. And it cut in to time I would have spent on my blog or other articles I have in the works.
And I’ve experienced this in other areas of my life. Last week I missed one workout for my half marathon training, because I wasn’t feeling well. I went two days without working out.
No big deal, right? I wish.
When I did a tempo run the following day, it was the most challenging workout since my training started. Not only did I have no activity for two days, but my workout partner was out of town. And damn were those workouts hard.
Now, because of a cold, I’m missing my long run for this week. In writer-speak that’s like being 10,000 words behind on your novel.
With writing and training, I missed a few days, but in terms of getting back into the flow, it set me back a week. I had to push myself as hard as I did when I first started these goals.
When life happens, it’s common for these habits to get kicked aside, and it requires great effort to get back into them.
- Start small – If you think about the entirety of the project, it will overwhelm you. So start with a small, measurable goal, such as writing one page or for 30 minutes. Increase this a little each day.
- Take it easy – Acknowledge that you’re not going to perform at the level you did before. You are going to fumble, and that is okay. It’s not important whether you do it well, only whether you do it at all. Make it your goal to do something each day, whether it is the writing exercise mentioned above or doing a little bit of editing.
- Accept the uncomfortable – It is often our inclination to correct uncomfortable barriers and mental blocks. We either get wrapped up in them, or we want to push them aside. We might even feel the same fear we had when we were first starting out. It is good practice to make some space for that and take it one word at a time.
As you try to get back into the habit, it’s going to feel as comfortable as going to a middle school dance. You might feel like an awkward goober, and you wish you could hide in bed. But it is possible to get back into the habit. It is your job to make that effort.