5 Lessons from Letting My Writing Habit Lapse
I started the year with a resolution to write and publish daily. I made it to mid-May in this journey. Rather than be disappointed in myself, I thought I would just chalk it up to “life” and continue to drive on.
Daily publishing has taught me many things. One of the most important things I’ve learned through daily writing was that it forced me to think more clearly. Don’t confuse clear thinking with easy writing. The final form of the published writing was just the tip of the iceberg. I had to get my thoughts in order. I didn’t know what I wanted to write about more often than not.
My motivation was great at the start and even through the 90-day mark. But it started to wane drastically after that. I started to rationalize my way out of writing. The excuses seemed harmless at first. And they were nullified when I published. But that’s what made them more harmful. They started to grow. But as long as I published, I didn’t take the time to address the root causes of the excuses.
Here are 5 lessons I’ve learned from this lapse in writing.
Lesson 1: Ditch the perfectionist attitude.
All or none. Go big or go home. There is a middle ground. You don’t have to publish every day. I was either going to publish every single day or not at all. This is a harmful approach if you want to write as much as possible. Be okay with skipping a few days.
Lesson 2: Schedule time for writing.
I figured I’d just work writing time around my current schedule. For about three months, it worked. Then things got a busier. Writing time soon became the first victim. I didn’t schedule time for writing. Because it wasn’t deserving of a slot on the calendar, its priority dropped.
Lesson 3: Pay attention to the excuses you use to avoid writing.
Excuses were non-existent as long as my motivation was high. But motivation, like everything else, ebbs and flows. You shouldn’t rely on motivation to get you through the tough times. Your excuses to avoid writing will develop over time. Soon they will be too overwhelming to overcome. It’s best to address whatever the root cause is.
Lesson 4: Refine and focus your media consumption.
Reading diversely and deeply are completely different. Time will dictate how much juggling you can do with these two disparate goals. There will not be enough time to read all the stuff you want to read so be very selective of what you consume. Reading will influence your writing to a large degree. If you’d like to be a writer on one thing, refine your media consumption to that thing. Or read everything through that perspective. Reading what may be totally unrelated to your core writing can shed some light on some unusual (different) ideas.
Lesson 5: Make it easy to write.
First, realize how difficult writing is. You are bringing your jumbled thoughts together into (hopefully) something coherent enough for others to consume. Recognize that difficulty and do what you can to set yourself up for success. Prepare the page. Pre-writing is an actual process that sets you up for success. Develop a process that works for you. But at a minimum, you should be an idea capture machine. Everything you experience is a source of information that could feed an article. Don’t rely on spur-of-the-moment inspiration. That works only when motivation is high. But when things are hectic, writing is usually the first to go.
Writing is the toughest task anyone can undertake. Doing it regularly has a ton of benefit that won’t seem apparent until you’ve done it enough times. That figure is different for everyone.