This is something I wrote for the 15-Minute Writer back on November 29th, 2011. This is a strong piece that really has become my backbone over the last several months as I launch my freelance writing business. I do everything in 15 or 30-minute chunks now and it WORKS. Try it and let me know how it goes in the comments below. Thanks.
This is the one thing that I just wish I could remember when I have those dark days where I lose faith in myself. Those days where I wonder why I bother doing this at all, this writing thing. Those days where I loathe myself for not getting the writing done, ensnared in resistance and full of excuses (sometimes even good ones) about why it isn’t happening.
Yes, I’m unemployed. Yes, there are challenges, doctor’s appointments, band practice, sick kids and the never ending time-consuming tasks of eating, sleeping, laundry and the occasional home repair project… but everyone has them. And what they are is the sneaky way that resistance or the Inner Critic slip into your life and sabotage your efforts.
I’ve been fighting and losing the battle the last couple of months. I have good intentions, but get sidelined and manage to put off the writing for just a little while longer, or tell myself that this cover letter is the most important thing I have to do today, when, in truth, there is plenty of time for both.
Maybe I don’t like the particular project I’m working on. Maybe I’m just not in the mood to draft the copy for the sales page on my website right now, but the fact of the matter is: It is important and not having it done is preventing me from completing other tasks that depend on it.
Maybe I’m not in a mood to write a blog post, because who’s going to read it anyway… at least that is what the critic is telling me right before I open Microsoft Word and begin typing… then decide to check my Twitter feed instead.
But if I decide to sit down and set a timer and write for just 15 minutes, and vow not to check email for that period of time, act on a random thought that occurs during that time (such is the power of the web) and focus on just getting something down, I often find myself resetting that timer for another 15 minutes and then another, and soon enough, the dreaded project is done and I FEEL GREAT! Even if I only do 15-minutes, my brain lets me relax because it has checked writing off of today’s must-do list.
That is the part that I always forget about. The guilt-free, anxious feeling erased from the rest of my day which allows me to enjoy watching some Walking Dead, stupid videos on YouTube, or reading for pleasure without that timer that seems to always be ticking in my head.
You are never going to feel that the time is right to write. It never happens. There is always something more important, more urgent to do. You will never feel less tired, in the mood, or more inspired than you do right now.
Make a promise to yourself to write just 15 minutes a day. Mark it on your calendar, your to-do list or put it on a post it note that you carry with you everywhere, and do it. Write for at least 15 minutes a day, for a month, with no excuses, and see how you feel after 30 days.
Who’s going to join me? With apologies to Tom Petty: “Sometimes the starting is the hardest part…”