You promised yourself you’d write today–or this week or this month–and you didn’t.
Or you did sit down to write, but every word was like pulling teeth.
What do you do when you’re forcing yourself to write and it’s not working?
Some folks double down. They tie themselves to their desks. They put negative consequences in place. (Check out this crazy extreme “burn or burn” consequence from my new favorite blogger and author Nir Eyal.)
This can work. Some of the time. For some people. On some projects.
If you have to send a bunch of emails or edit a blog post, you can probably get it done by pushing yourself.
But when it comes to writing — to being creative — you might find that the more you force yourself, the worse things get.
If you’ve been beating yourself up about writing and it’s not working, there’s a better way.
You can stop forcing yourself. Stop bullying yourself. Stop being demanding and disappointed.
When you try a different approach, you’re going to get more done in less time. And it will likely be better than what you write if you force yourself.
Ya know how there are certain things ya gotta do to “adult” that you just hate doing? Well, a big one for me is getting water. What, Megan? Do you live in a little house on the prairie? No, but I do live in a little town with unsafe tap water.
Since I don’t want to use plastic bottles, a water delivery service is out. That means several times a week I lug glass bottles to the local water filtration store to refill ‘em.
It’s a pain. I hate doing it. My husband hates doing it. We have been unsuccessful in training the cat to do it. So we argue over whose turn it is.
More often than not, this task and its accompanying argument come up after dinner when both the hubs and I really want to relax.
One night, just as we were about to launch into a full-fledged “I-did-it-last-time” argument, my wise hubby yelled out “Road trip!”
In our house, these two words are magic.
When you declare something a “road trip,” you transform it from a task that has to be done into a party.
“Road Trip” when filling up the water bottles means we help each other carry the bottles to the car. We crank the classic rock station as we drive. We tell silly stories and giggle as we fill the bottles. Sometimes we even stop for candy at the gas station on the way home.
Whether we argue or we “road trip,” we end up getting water. But one way we put off the task forever while we fight over who has to do it. Then we end up miserable for the rest of the evening because we’ve just duked it out for several rounds in the resentment arena.
The other way we jump in the car right then. (Part of a “road trip” is you go as you are, pajamas and Crocks and all.) We use the time to bond. We spend the rest of the evening in good spirits, feeling like partners.
Less Fighting, More Writing
What would it feel like if you could “road trip” your writing? If you could start sooner, finish sooner, and enjoy it more while it was happening?
The secret is to stop bullying and forcing yourself. I know it sounds counter-intuitive. You want to write. So you start putting pressure on yourself.
But pressure is the enemy of creativity.
Think of your creativity as an underground spring. It’s deep. It goes on for miles and miles. And there’s plenty of water — ideas.
Pressure, force, bullying yourself — these are like giant boulders covering up the opening of the spring. A few ideas might still spill out, but most will be inaccessible under the layers of self-imposed weight.
Try removing the boulders. Choose to be your own partner. Cooperate with your creativity instead of berating it for not being fast enough or not pulling its weight.
What does that feel like for you? What word, phrase, or action will signal you to lighten the mood and ease into writing?