I plan to babysit grandkids tomorrow. If my new personal trainer doesn't kick my butt, I'm sure my grandkids will polish me off nicely.
So this reminded me of what we have to do to stay sticky, relevant and unstoppable as a writer. Certainly the excited fans who love our books helps. The community of other authors who enthusiastically travel along the same path, and the collection of shared associates to help us do what we do can spur us on and keep us motivated. But, ultimately, the writer has to do the basics every day. I'm going to outline some of them here today.
1. Develop a daily writing routine. I recently read Manage Your Day-To-Day, a collection of essays edited by Jocelyn Glei, which discusses setting up a routine each day based on your own body's most creative rhythms. I recently began leaving the mornings open to write first thing. I've stopped scheduling Dr. appts, critique groups or other meetings during that most productive time for me. I try to stay off the internet until so many words have been placed on the pages, or until so many pages of edits are completed. My mind just works better creatively in the morning. There are actual physical reasons why this just makes sense. Everyone is different.
2. Write even when I don't feel like it. Here is where the amateur is separated from professional writers. The professional trains every day. We used to say in the other coaching and training field I was in for nearly three decades Tiger Woods knows how to golf, yet he trains intensely every day. Only way that muscle is developed is to push it a little. Do it when it doesn't feel good. Most writers underestimate how important this is. The public thinks the writer gets "inspiration" and then writes. Most of us doing this with any kind of success know that the inspiration comes later, in the polishing or editing.
3. Slow and steady wins the race. Ever watch chickens lay eggs? They have a routine set up to support this activity and they rarely deviate from it for good production. In sales, a few routines things can propel an average seller into a mega seller. In writing, we are talking about turning out a volume of quality work. Some people write fast but have no quality. Some have high quality but no volume. No matter what end of the spectrum you fall, learning to stretch and develop slowly in the areas we need improvement works.
4. Occasionally push hard to blow out all the carbon. Like cleaning clogged drains, I find having deadlines is good. Sprinting, working hard and fast brings more intensity to my writing life. Sitting back and waiting for the muse to descend upon me is like waiting for a 3 year old to want to be potty trained. A good kind of stress is actually healthy. If it wasn't, we'd never enjoy sex, raising a family, maintaining long-term friendships or relationships. We'd never run marathons compete in contests, play games.
5. Occasionally do something stupid, or something new. I don't think it matters which we do, as long as we mess with our own routine now and then. Kind of like sprinting or pressing through a deadline, learning to be flexible and well rounded is a healthy trait to develop, and it doesn't happen on it's own. Practicing randomness, even foolishness, can be a good thing. I've got several things on my bucket list I want to accomplish that will probably not make any sense to anyone but myself, and have nothing to do with writing. But they are part of the person inside me who likes to break out of boxes, throw caution to the wind, and experience (healthy things mind you) just for the experience of it.
6. Ask for help. As has been recently written about in the news, if you are struggling, don't be so closed you can't ask for help. This is probably the hardest part for an independent, creative thinker to do. Stay plugged into your community. Get people to help you through the rough patches so you don't have to go there alone. Get advice from those you trust, always. Never think that you stop learning and know that needing others around you is actually a healthy thing. You don't have to trudge through the ice and sleet and pain, especially alone.
I'm sure you could add one or two things onto this list. I'd love to hear about them. Everyone who comments on today's post will receive the kindle version of Game For Love: SEAL's Goal, if they leave their coded email in the body of their response. Life is a game, afterall. We never really win or lose, we just run out of time.
Love is two fool things after each other.