So, my original introduction to this post started with a few lines about a NaNoWriMo recovery. At this point, we all know that was a no-go. The rest is still relevant, at least: through 2016 I’ve watched my fellow Inkettes talk about writing successes, failures, and frustrations as the months have ticked by. A major theme for some of us is not letting writing go to the wayside because it is more than a hobby for us, even though we have a tendency to neglect it now and then.
I’m horribly guilty when it comes to this, and I’ve said time and again that I wanted to use NaNo as a means of getting out of that headspace. That failed big time, and it highlights my issue glaringly. The pressure I put on myself to not only win NaNo, but to use that win as a life altering experience, added stress when I really didn’t need more –and that was before the computer saga sabotaged me (mentally more than anything).
I was obsessing about this the other day, this need to make writing a priority. The root of the issue is that I don’t have a strong writing habit. Over the past year I’ve drawn up ideas on how to get myself writing more and I simply ignore them when the time draws near. I make up schedules in which I’ve fit writing time and just do something else instead.
I want to shake myself I’m so frustrated!
A couple of years ago I had this same issue with exercise. I knew I needed more. I had injured myself so I didn’t want to work out because I couldn’t do what I wanted. So I let it slip. By the time I was healed up I was so out of shape that it was a wicked fight to get back at it. Exercising was exhausting and more often than not I didn’t want to do it and would find some excuse to avoid it.
Then I learned about habits and choices and routine. Even making small choices at the start of the day can lead to mental exhaustion because making choices, even seemingly small ones, requires a lot of energy. Habits and routines are the answer.
Two years later I’m probably in the best shape I’ve ever been in. Basically, I don’t give myself a choice in the matter when it comes to exercising, unless I have a prior engagement I can’t work around or I’m too ill.
The Saturday routine doesn’t vary; I go on the treadmill for an hour where I walk and sometimes jog, then I do an ab workout and an arm workout. Recently I have added exercises to strengthen the joints and muscles around my hips because I’m having some running problems. Then I stretch.
The Thursday routine is similar. I get up, make my lunch for later in the day, prep my smoothie, eat breakfast, then get on my exercise bike. I do a quick stretch before changing for work and leaving the house.
Tuesdays are a little different. I get off work around 2, come home and do my after-work stuff, then change and get on the treadmill for 30 minutes, then the bike for 30 minutes, and then I do different hip-strengthening exercises, lunges, and decline push-ups. I wrap it up with a stretch. I’m a little loopy by the time I blend my smoothie on these days.
Making the necessary life changes to make these routines habitual was hard work. And it took a lot of time. My health was my motivation because I couldn’t go on like I was anymore. I was in constant pain, I was lethargic, and I was really unhappy. Exercise is a great stress reliever and our bodies are meant to move. They need to move.
This is where the parallel kicks in. I don’t’ know why I don’t think I have to put in the same amount of work where writing is concerned. Wanting to write and not blocking out the time leads to the same results: failure, emotional pain and lethargy, and unhappiness.
Life changes are difficult. Even making positive changes is a struggle. I’ve got the exercise down, but I’ve been trying to implement a few other changes and have failed miserably. I have to acknowledge that I may be trying to do too much, too fast.
As humans with impulses we like to see quick results from very little hard work –you only have to watch half the TV commercials out there to figure that one out. Honestly, quick fixes don’t work in any aspect of life.
Ok, I got really hokey there, but I mean it.
When it came to exercise I had a mission and I took quantifiable steps to reach my goal. I need to get back into that headspace and do the same with writing. I refuse to let 2017 follow the same pattern as 2016. I’ve disliked this year immensely and do not want a repeat.
What steps have you taken to make writing a habit instead of a hobby? If you have any tips to share I would love to hear them!