An appointment that can’t be broken
Whenever I have doubts about my sanity, I turn to the voices in my head to set things right. You might think I need medication, but the voices are the medication.
Writers know exactly what I’m talking about. Those voices that are always in the background wanting your undivided attention to tell their story. These are our characters, the fascinatingly flawed people who shape our fiction and helps us release tension, stress, anger, and a multitude of other emotions. Letting them run around on the page looks like work to those watching us at our keyboards, but for a writer…this is play time.
And if this is play time, it begs the question, “why is it so hard to get started?” To be able to dive in at any time, you need a writing habit. Kinda like having “the knack”, but instead of intuitive engineering, you’re building worlds out of words with ease.
Now, everyone has a habit. It makes you do a certain thing at a certain time a certain way. For writers and artists, establishing habits can help you get into the flow of your craft easier and faster. Just like you have your bedtime routine that tells your brain it’s time to sleep, and so like magic you begin to yawn as you put the toothbrush away, you can train your brain to enter writing mode. Establish a habit, a location, or trigger to tell your brain to write.
Do you write to music? A particular kind of music? Do you need silence? Where do you sit? Do you have toys on your desk, or must your writing software layout be just so? How do you warm up?
Make an appointment with yourself that you keep. Set aside an hour that is your writing time. If sixty minutes is too intimidating, start with fifteen and work your way up. Having a time limit will kick in your sense of urgency which has amazing powers to override the inner critic that slows you down. By keeping this appointment, you’re investing in yourself and your craft. You become a better writer through practice. Best selling authors aren’t blessed with magical orbs that feed the words to their fingers. They invest the time to write and write often to learn better ways to tell a story. No magic bullets, just work. This writing time, this investment in craft, trains your brain to quickly access the grey matter where your creativity lives.
Waiting for the perfect quiet day to write won’t put words on the paper for you. You have to make the time and keep it to form the writing habits you want in your life. I envy writers who are able to turn out novels fast, and although my publication rate is sporadic, I do make time to write regularly. It’s how I process my thoughts, work out solutions to a multitude of tasks, and plan goals.
Today is an unusually chilly day for August, it’s rainy, the house is still, and my cup of Paris tea is the perfect temperature. A perfect setting to write, but I would be writing anyway. I’ve made an appointment that can’t be broken.