Lately I’ve been reading a ton, but not writing that much. I sometimes wonder if I hide my writing behind my reading. I know that to write well I need to read a lot, especially in the type of writing I aim to write. Yet, it seems I often don’t have protected writing time. I can read all day, but I can’t write all day. Go figure!
In one of the books I was reading – How to Do Fewer Things Better by Angela Watson – Angela recommends (and other productivity books say the same) to simply schedule in down time, work time, etc and to just show up like you would a doctor’s appointment. I have yet to do that with writing; it seems like other things get in the way. But I know that if I want to protect and advance my writing, I will need to schedule it in every day. And not just journal writing. That would be too easy for me, though there is value in that too. If I want to prioritize work that is important to me and if I want to accomplish something that can be perceived as a legacy, then I need to schedule in writing time.
Reading can be done anytime, anywhere. However, I find that I need different structures in place for writing. For example, I need to have my computer, a notebook and something to write with. I need to be sitting upright, preferably at my office desk, and I need to tune out any extraneous noise. (When I read I can be sitting in front of the TV while someone else is watching and truly get lost in the book I’m reading. Not with writing.)
One other thing that I need for a dedicated, daily writing time is to know what the focus of my writing will be. Will I work on the short story about my mom or will I work on a book proposal? Will I continue my doctoral writing or will I start something new? It seems that sometimes these seemingly simple decisions paralyze me and prevent me from moving forward. It’s easier to have nothing on the page than to be exposed to criticism or, worse, rejection.
Yet, I do OK with blog posts. So, what is the problem? I think, and I’m thinking out loud here, it’s that blog posts are shorter bursts of writing and therefore manageable. A book proposal or doctoral writing requires longer, more sustained writing. I am realizing I have yet to develop the stamina for that kind of writing precisely because I don’t yet have a daily writing habit that focuses on what’s important to me.
I’ve read that it takes at least 21 days to develop and maintain a new habit. Yesterday was Day #1 and I wrote at the appointed time on my calendar. I know it will get harder as I move through the next few days, but there’s no turning back now. The game is on. I look forward to getting it right…this time.
Cross posted to Two Writing Teachers Tuesday Slice of Life Challenge.