After two and a half months of writing consistently, I’m starting to see a process develop in my writing habits.
Today was the first day I looked to one of my posts for inspiration, and not someone else’s.
What first inspired me to start writing again for a blog — and I’m not going to lie — was the money. And although I’m far from retiring on the earnings from my writing, what I have learned about myself is far more significant than money.
Last night after eating Chinese food at one of my favorite restaurants, my fortune cookie bestowed on me these wise words, “great things happen outside your comfort zone.” That cookie’s offering pretty much sums up my time here. I may have used that very quote in one of my posts on perfectionism.
A little over two months ago, I was terrified to share my writing publicly, I suffer from comparison syndrome.
What I did was sign up for a writing class and that changed everything. I got a homework assignment - to share. My delaying tactics thwarted, because I’m not one to ignore a homework assignment, I did it. And I’m glad I did. I turned that one post into a 30-day challenge and haven’t stopped since.
What I’ve learned
When I’m more confident I write better.
On some days, I wake up ready to take on the world. On those days, my writing reflects that confidence. On other days I wake up and want to pull the covers over my head and sleep for another hour; on those days, writing is more of a struggle. But drudging through the challenging days offers up its reward in the pushing through despite the battle — you gain a habit.
The struggle with confidence, self-acceptance, self-love, the human condition — whatever you want to name it — is nearly always there in the back of your mind tempting you to give in to your fear and quit whatever goal you are trying to achieve because you aren’t sure you are capable of achieving it.
Self-acceptance is the key to a happy life, and for a life of writing that is fulfilling.
It allows for flexibility in your routine and prevents you from being too hard on yourself as a writer so that you don’t quit when things aren’t perfect, and they never are.
Self-acceptance is a process of maturation. It comes with time.
We struggle with confidence at all stages of life. However, self-acceptance does come more readily through experience which comes with getting older— trials and tribulations — when we rise to them, we learn to say, “I am enough.”
Confidence comes and goes. Some days, the trust in our abilities is more abundant than it is on other days. The hard part is loving yourself anyway.
The ultimate exercise in self-love is, “Hey, I may not great at this or that, but I’m getting better.” This is self-acceptance — You accept that you are flawed and you accept the things that are beautiful about you simultaneously. Concluding, “I’m good enough.”It is not, “I’m perfect,” it’s “I’m good enough.”
I’m flawed. I make mistakes, but those mistakes don’t sink me, they don’t cripple me, or define me.
You are not embarrassed by them, or ashamed, you say to yourself, “OK, I’ll learn from this and do better next time.”
Self-confidence is the ability to live with your lack of confidence.
It is the ability to live with your insecurities and your uncertainties about yourself.
You may feel deeply insecure in one area of your life (as I did, and do, most days about my writing). It’s alright to say this insecurity is part of who you are. Your ability to live with your ambivalence — that there are things you like about yourself and things you do not like, that there are things you feel good about yourself and there are things you are troubled by — this is what self-acceptance looks like; the ability to integrate those conflicting ideas and live with them is an essential ingredient to self-acceptance. You must work on this because the opposite, non-acceptance, is paralyzing.
Write every day. Every. Single. Day.
I know we hear this all the time because it is true. I recently skipped a few days of writing in a row — I didn’t write one word, not one sentence. It made sitting down at the computer that much harder when I finally sat down to write.
Writing is a muscle you need to exercise, or it will atrophy.
The more you write, the more successful you will be at writing.
How often to post — a very loose process.
I don’t subscribe to a rigid process for my day or my writing habit, but I do know what works best for me through trial and error.
I have a fluid method to fit in my daily writing. First off, writing every day is an essential habit for me, but completing an entire post may not happen, and that is OK. Writing for at least an hour a day is mandatory, but sharing what I wrote is not.
I can call it a successful day, if I write at all. This may sound unambitious to some. Some days are just more productive than others. We are all different, and we should devise a process which works best for each of us. Instead, I have been batching my posts, getting a few done in one day as opposed to spreading them out throughout the week. I still post daily, but I write several in one day. This tactic gives me more time to find inspiration, in reading, going places, doing things, living.
Peak hours of productivity.
I’m at my best in the morning. My peak hours of productivity are between 5:30 am and 3:00 pm.
Everyone has a different time of day when they are at their best, when the “flow state” comes easily. We’ve all experienced this “flow state,” when we are completing emersed in what we are doing and hours go by without us noticing. We don’t allow anything to interrupt our writing because we are in a groove. When we finally come out of it, we have a lot to show for our work.
After 4:00 pm I’m spent, wiped out and not much gets done. I have no capacity for writing or much else. I’m just not productive. I do have a burst of energy later in the evening when I will write or rewrite some more.
Pick a time of day and a place to write.
Don’t write only “when you feel like it.” You need to write when you don’tfeel like it, and when you do feel like it. Picking a specific time of day to write will make your daily writing habit more likely to happen.
Establishing a time you are at your best to write, and finding a specific place in which you write your best is how to take your writing seriously. By carving out a particular time and a particular area, you will maximize your chances of success.
You should treat your writing like a job you need to show up for.
You wouldn’t decide not to show up for your day job, don’t make an excuse not to show up for your writing. I guarantee successful writers who are paid well show up like it is their job. If you want to be a writer who has readers, then you can’t make excuses for not showing up for your writing.
I have to exercise every day, or my writing suffers. I feel more tired and lethargic when I don’t include daily exercise. I get this accomplished in the morning, or the chances of it happening are zero to none. I exercise, and then I write.
One day ahead.
My posts that do well and have the most views are the ones I schedule ahead of time, and I work on a day or two before I publish them.
This system gives me a psychological edge.
If I have a completed post in the queue scheduled to go out sometime in the morning the following day, upon awakening, I feel like I’m ahead of my work, and ready to write some more.