Sunday, May 9, 2021

A Writing Habit That Works for YOU

Amazingly enough, it's already May - which means THE PROMISED QUEEN, the third and final book in the Forgotten Empires trilogy, is out in just two weeks. That comes as a shock to me, I can tell you! 

It also makes this particular graphic quite apt and goes well with our topic this week: "When Life Gets In The Way: dealing with a schedule for writing when the world wants to go off the rails."

Nothing like a global pandemic and the attendant chaos to shake up the world a bit, huh?

I've been fortunate compared to many of the creatives I know - so many people have struggled to create art during this extraordinary time of upheaval - in that I've maintained a consistent output of words. In fact, I wrote nearly 120K more words in 2020 than in 2019 (recall that I am dubbed The Spreadsheet Queen for a reason), which I largely attribute to the fact that I didn't travel in 2020.

So, why was I able to stay on schedule when others couldn't?

There are a lot of reasons for that - including that I am blessed with happy brain chemistry and I'm not prone to anxiety - but I think the number one reason is that I've built a consistent writing habit. That's the foundation that keeps me stable and productive.

Martial artists like to poke at practitioners of yoga and meditation by saying, "But what happens when someone knocks you off your pillow?" The jibe is meant to shame those not into the fighting arts by implying that meditation is fine and all, but if you're attacked, it's fundamentally useless.

Believe me - I know this is exactly what they mean, as I used to train with martial artists fond of saying that very thing.

Whenever someone asks me about this topic, about work/life balance or maintaining creativity through upheaval, I think of that quip. 

What happens when someone knocks you off your pillow?

The answer is pretty obvious: You get back on.

See, the whole point of meditation (or prayer or self-care or whatever works for you) is to discover a solid, peaceful foundation within yourself. That's why it's called a "practice." It's something that you develop over time by doing it repeatedly. Nobody ever said it was in order to spend your entire life on a pillow in a meditative state. Once you discover that foundation, that silent core of peacefulness, then you know how to find it again. 

No one ever promised us lives where everything is perfect all the time. Things are going to happen to derail us - and the best we can do is find our way back to that foundation again, rather than being tossed about endlessly from one crisis to another.

A writing habit provides that foundation. The great thing about habits is we default to them. Bad and good, habits drive our unconscious decisions. Why not build a writing habit that works for you instead of against you?

Then, when the world knocks you off schedule, it's easy to get right back on again.

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