Are you struggling to form a writing habit? Do you find yourself saying “I should be writing regularly” but never doing anything about it?
You know what? That kind of resistance is totally normal.
Resistance invades the artistic process at every level. In fact, resistance is so pervasive that Steven Pressfield wrote a book about it. A whole book. The War of Art. And he’s not alone. Many people have written books and articles on this subject.
So how can we overcome resistance to establish a habit that allows us to write our memoir, our nonfiction book, our novel?
Let’s work through it together, exploring the ideas introduced in my piece, “Five Ways to Trick Yourself into Writing,” over the next few months. Within this process, I encourage you to lower your expectations about what you can or will or should do (See this piece for what I think about that horrid “should”) and take the time to think deeply to create a solution that works for you.
Selecting a Goal
Between the “should” and the tip-tip-tapping of the words each day lies a chasm filled with reasons and rationalizations for why you can’t make those words happen regularly.
So, how can you find your motivation and show up for this marvelous story you want to tell? After all, you’re dying to tell it. You dream about the possibility. Your mind pops new ideas at you all day long.
Luckily, the answer to this question lies within you. You are the only one who can know what motivates you. And what motivates you may not work for anyone else. That’s okay.
Finding that motivation makes the difference between a completed book and the dream remaining a dream.
Pick a Goal that Aligns with You
By selecting a goal that aligns with your purpose and meaning, you discover a real reason to get out of bed on frigid mornings or pinch yourself awake when you want to collapse at night.
When I speak of your purpose and meaning, I’m talking about the thing or action or feeling that brings importance to your life. We’ve all heard people talking about “finding their purpose” or “searching for their meaning,” but that bestows more gravitas on this process than it deserves.
While some of us find our meaning in saving the planet like Greta Thunberg, I suspect that most of us find meaning in smaller ways. For example, my purpose is to delight and inspire people to create beauty.
Your purpose can be just as serious as Greta’s or as light as mine. The judgments of the world or your family or your friends don’t matter.
Realize that everyone’s purpose is beautiful.
Everyone’s purpose is powerful.
Everyone’s purpose is as important as everyone else’s.
No matter their seeming weight.
The Perfect Work Day Exercise
One of my favorite tools for finding your purpose is the Perfect Work Day exercise.
Take a few moments and journal a detailed picture of your perfect workday. Where are you working? What are you working on? What activities are you participating in? Who joins you as you spend your day? Write your whole day from waking in the morning to going to bed at night.
After you’ve finished creating the picture, read it again and then consider:
- Which part tugs at your heart the most?
- Why? Why does that thing touch you so deeply?
- What does it do in your life and the lives of others that means so much to you?
Creating that picture of your perfect workday and answering those questions helps you begin to see your purpose in action. And that makes your dream much harder to ignore. The feeling of freedom or the joy in creation or whatever made your heart sing in that picture of your perfect day—that could be the thing to draw you out of your routine and propel you into action.
For example, my perfect workday includes writing fiction, personal essays, and inspirations for creatives in the morning and meeting with coaching clients in the afternoon. Looking at these activities made me realize that all I want to do is delight my readers, inspiring and empowering them to create their beauty in the world. That thought made my fingers itch to get moving.
Aha! I thought. Now I can get to work! I enthusiastically leaped into writing.
I didn’t know there was one more step to finding that perfect motivation.
I knew I needed to put myself in a space where I would write more. Where I could write more. Where I expressed my ideas and communicated them in words that would inspire you to make your art, write your words, manifest your dream in our world!
Whew! Got a little full of myself there. Basically, I knew that I needed to create a space for my writing in my hectic life.
So, thinking that I needed at least ninety minutes of writing time each morning, I decided to get up at 4:30 am.
Well, by day three of getting up at 4:30 am, I thought I was going to die. Thoroughly exhausted in every way, my day job suffered from poor quality work—and if you need that day job to get by like most of us do, you know that can’t last.
On day four, I accidentally slept in until 6:45 am and felt great all day. No more early mornings, I decided. I guess I just can’t do that.
I could have stopped there, but my motivation is strong. I want to write. I want to support others to achieve their dreams. I want to make people laugh. I don’t want to die without helping everyone I can and writing delightful essays and books along the way. When I thought of giving up, my regret lay on top of me like a dusty bag of unmixed concrete.
“How can I make my writing happen?” I despaired.
And, with that question, I knew I’d picked the perfect goal.
The moment you look at your dream and say, “How can I make this happen?”—know you have picked the right thing to pursue.
And know that, on your path to your writing habit, all you need to do for the next month is find your motivation.
What motivation makes you ask, “How can I make this happen?”
***This post uses Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coaching Tools™.
Tell us in the comments: How did you find your motivation?
LA (as in tra-la-la) Bourgeois empowers you to embrace JOY as you manifest your creative goals through her Creativity and Business Coaching. Battle resistance, procrastination, and overwhelm with her at your side, gently encouraging with humor and heart. Discover more at her website, labourgeois.biz