Showing up for writing is essential.
In the first days of creating a manuscript when we writers sit down to write—or rededicate ourselves to writing—it is often a struggle to find the energy to show up for the task. So many things seems to compete for our attention. We ask ourselves about “the point of all of this” and “who will read this book anyway” and “will people find this memoir a bit lightweight.” But showing up—regardless of what negative thoughts go through your head—is important because that is how a habit is formed. The first ten or so weeks of writing are when you will grow the habit of writing. You will begin to need to write, to find sustenance from writing. That sustenance will keep you writing.
People have said to me, “The first months were the hardest. After a while, the writing was something I did out of habit. I didn’t necessarily like it but I showed up whenever I said I would. The after a while something happened. I didn’t feel good if I didn’t write regularly. I just didn’t feel as if I were all right. My writing seemed less of an effort, and I even thought it was better. My stories were adding up, and it made me happy to see how much I was accomplishing.”
Underpromise and overdeliver
If you are serious about writing your stories—whether you are just starting out or whether you are starting up again—create a writing schedule for yourself. Be realistic. Underpromise and overdeliver. If you think you ought to write for 15 hours a week but suspect you will probably only write for 10 on most weeks, underpromise what you will do: commit to ten hours a week and not fifteen. Then if there is a week in which you can write more, overdeliver 15 rather than 10. In this way, you’ll always be successful.
Writing regularly has nothing to do with feeling. It has everything to do with commitment. You will find, too, that the regularity of your writing habit will make it so much easier for you to overcome your inertia. We all have inertia, but we do not all succumb to inertia. Therein lies the difference between people who succeed at writing a memoir and those who are still thinking of it.
- Determine the best time to write regularly. You get to “best time” by balancing your biorythms and your obligations.
- Concretize your best time on days of your calendar by writing it in.
- Do not let others or other pulls cause you to neglect your commitment.
And in conclusion
Feel like writing on a scheduled day? Write! Don’t feel at all like writing on a scheduled day? Write just the same.
It’s not about feeling. What ever you do today, write a bit on your memoir.