As I discussed in my previous post it is easy to come up with excuses for writing, easy to come up with these excuses but much harder to overcome them.
Over the last month I’ve had the opportunity to put these tactics into practice. And I’ve learned the hard way what works and what doesn’t work.
Too Busy to Write?
For the last month I’ve been busier than I have in a long time. I moved from a one-bedroom apartment to a single bedroom in shared housing. This meant going through all my worldly possessions and deciding what to keep, sell, and donate.
At the same time I was deep in my training for the Cascade Lakes Relay, a 216.6 mile relay race in central Oregon. After completing three 10K’s in a 24 hour period, it was the most physically and mentally challenging of any race I’ve finished.
In the first week of August I finalized my move and completed the relay race. The day after I turned in the keys to my old apartment, I left town for a week.
My days were completely consumed by working full time, packing up my apartment, and completing training runs. I had very little time for anything else, least of all writing.
What kept me going were morning pages, a habit which I persistently follow each day. Beyond that, I didn’t do too much writing, but it was better than nothing.
I wasn’t perfect. Most days I barely wrote one page, much less three. On other days I preferred to sleep in and missed them altogether.
But I held on to that intention. This perseverance served me well during the relay race. On the first day of the race while a teammate ran the first leg, I sat in our support van with pen and notebook and did my pages.
The setting was less than ideal. It was so cold at our campsite that my fingers were frigid to the bone. And there were a lot of distractions with people coming in and out of the van. But I got them done, and my day was better for it.
So this was a great opportunity to reflect on successes and failures and what lessons can be learned from them.
4 Tips for Beating Excuses Not to Write
- Create a Daily Routine. Without morning pages, I would have been screwed. The only reason I wrote at all during this time was because I was committed to the daily practice of morning pages, a simple part of my daily routine. No matter what, I get up at 6 a.m. every morning, brew coffee, and write three pages before I start my day. Your daily routine might be writing 3 pages; write for 30 minutes; or write 500 words. They key is to make it simple and achievable.
- But don’t be a tyrant about it. My morning pages don’t always get done in the morning. The other day, I wrote pages at 4 p.m. at an airport during my layover. After getting up at the crack of dawn on four hours of sleep, it was damn near impossible to do them before leaving for the airport. But I found time later in the day to fulfill this daily habit. Having a daily routine is vital, but don’t be uptight about it. Which brings me to the next point.
- Adapt to Change. Be prepared to work outside your element. When I did morning pages in the van at the campsite, I didn’t want to be anywhere near other people. But I realized that this wouldn’t be the first and last time I would have to write in an uncomfortable environment. If I didn’t write around other people, then I wouldn’t write at all. Do the best with what you have.
- Give yourself a break. If your daily goal is to write for 30 minutes but you know you only have 20, write anyway. Something is way, way better than nothing. Don’t flog yourself, if you don’t meet your goals. Anything is better than nothing.
If you take only one lesson away from this post, it’s this: stick to one simple habit every day that will keep you writing. The more consistent you are with this habit, the more resilient the habit will be against destructive excuses.