Writing ain’t easy. It’s a chore, a task and an assignment.
It’s harder when it’s self-pursued as well. You’re the one setting the pace, the deadlines, the time, the goal, etc. You’re your own boss and guess what? You’re a shitty boss. You go easy on yourself. You tell yourself it’s okay when you miss a deadline. You tell yourself it’s alright if you miss a day, it’s fine if you do something else during your free time, you can ALWAYS write later. There’s no pressure, right?
That’s the dooming thought: I’LL JUST WRITE LATER, ITS FINE, NO SHUT UP CONSCIOUS, I WILL DO IT LATER WHEN I’M “IN THE MOOD” OR WHEN “THE FEELING IS RIGHT”. SHUT UP LOGICAL PART OF MY BRAIN, SHUT UP THIS IS A FOOLPROOF PLAN THERE IS ALWAYS TIME LATER AND I’LL WRITE ALL THAT SHIT, TOTES, FO’ SHO’, NO WORRIES, NO PROBLEM.
But you won’t write later if you don’t write now. WRITE NOW RIGHT NOW! WRITE RIGHT NOW!
Somehow, self-determination must come into the picture, a skill children and students should be taught from an early age. It involve setting goals for yourself and working on achieving them. If a plan doesn’t work, try something else. If you continue to plan to write and then blow it off, something isn’t working. You need to try something different, a new routine, a new habit, a new goal or a new method. Imagine the activity of you writing is a science experiment and you need to try new things, recording data as you go, until it goes right. I actually don’t think that’s how science works but you get the idea. Insanity is doing the same things and expecting different results. You are insane if you tell yourself you’re going to write today, this time will be different, but you don’t change anything. You don’t change the time you write or the triggers beforehand or the habits that distract you. That’s insanity.
We do it all the time. If we’re constantly late yet we don’t wake up earlier, expecting ‘this time there won’t be traffic!’ or ‘this time the T will run on time!’, that’s insanity.
But it’s easy to convince ourselves, especially without data. If we don’t keep a record, then we rely on our fiddly memories and experiences, easily changed, converted, corrupted. We tell ourselves something will be different this time, but not us, we keep on keepin’ on. Keep on truckin’. Expecting the world to change.
I do it. I do it all the time. I say “I’ll write later. I’ll finish that scene later. Tomorrow. The weekend. Tonight I’ll stay up late and do it. Tomorrow, I’ll wake up early and do it.” GUESS WHAT HAPPENS? NOT WRITING.
How do we change this? How do you change habits?
Science. Track yourself. Record data. Hypothesize. Experiment. Record results. Formulate a new hypothesis. Experiment. Etc. Etc. Until something works.
You might be asking “how do you do it?” I don’t have a good answer. I experience the same difficulties, I struggle with the same issues of motivation and doubt.
The only thing I can put out there is to Write First. Write before the doubt freezes your hands, before the questions fill your mind, before you get in your own way, before the distractions multiply, before your free time fills up. Write first. Make it the first thing you do.