I’ve posted a lot about my process over the last year. It seems to be the one thing that keeps coming to the front of my mind, as well as one of the items that readers are most curious about. My process is simple. Write every day, polish up posts every day to some extent, and try and find ideas every day. I do these things every day because I feel I have lost a lot of time that I need to make up for. It doesn’t mean that you have to write every day in order to be a writer. Although, it’s my personal belief that writers write every day. Not because they should, but because they want to.
What I haven’t spoken about is the effort it takes me to stay on this path. In order for me to be able to do daily work, I have to get up god-awful early. I’m not a morning person. So every single morning, I have to fight myself to get out of bed. Somedays, I don’t win. Today is one of those days. I’m still up at 6 AM, but that’s two hours later than I should have been up, and I will have two hours less to create today.
Every morning is a fight
I have to rededicate myself to my goals every single day. That’s why the routine, or system, is so important to me. When I’m not traveling, it’s actually pretty easy. I get enough sleep so that I’m naturally waking up right around 4 AM. But, I traveled more than 100 nights last year. It’s the road that gets me all screwed up. If I’m in my own timezone, like today, it’s a little easier. Ironically, the West Coast is the most difficult because it’s tough to get into a rhythm that works. The worst are the back to back weeks where I move from East Coast to West Coast, these disrupt my sleep patterns quite a bit, and that disruption affects my ability to get up reliably and create.
I’m not complaining. This travel schedule rewards me handsomely, and the effort I’m putting in now will ultimately pay off in spades in six months. But it’s playing hell on my creative output. When I was younger, I believed that the key to creativity was to be suffering. I bought into the myth of the tortured artist. So when my emotions were getting the best of me, I would write. The problem was when I was in a great mood and life was going well, I didn’t write, so I had nothing to compare my work against. Now, I know the key to being creative is to have a lot of experiences to draw from but to really take care of the creative body (yourself) and get into a comfortable routine to create. Less stress is much more fruitful for me.
When inspiration comes, I’ll be waiting
Also, I do not wait for inspiration. I just sit down and write. Inspiration comes some days, and others I have to labor through the writing, which even on the worst day, I still enjoy more than most anything else I do. How do I know if inspiration struck me? Two ways. First, the words come effortlessly that day. Second, when I go back to edit my work, I read passages that seem like someone else wrote them. I wrote a passage on writing a few months ago and had someone comment on it recently. The passage was one I had forgotten I wrote. It’s crazy. There are days where I feel that I must be losing my memory, but then I come to the understanding that if I write 300,000 words, I’m not going to remember every single sentence. But there was a sentence in the middle of the post that someone pulled out and highlighted as a perfect description of writing. My first thought was, “When did I write that?” That was written in the middle of a burst of inspiration, clearly. But if I don’t write every day, I can’t be sure to capture all of those bursts.
So before I imply that this is easy, I want to reassure you it hasn’t been easy. My example is just that you can do this if that’s your goal. I’m a perfect example of how possible it is to go from writing virtually nothing to being prolific nearly overnight. I just have to push myself every single day to make sure I get the work done. And, I do it first thing, if at all possible. Even on days like today, where I slept in more than I should, I write before I do anything else except brush my teeth and make coffee. I don’t look at my phone. I don’t look at the news, weather, etc. I don’t look at Facebook. I don’t even open the Internet at all. I want my writing to come from my own thoughts and beliefs, not a reaction to something else that’s going on in the world. But that’s because I don’t want to write about what’s going on in the world today – it’s all gotten too political and too polarized. If your blog is about current events, you would want to get up and check the pulse of the world before you wrote. So please don’t take my process as a judgment of yours. We each need to find what resonates with our creative soul.
I need mental blinders
I have found that I have to limit the external stimulus if I want to have my own topics and ideas. I have the heart of a political opinion essay writer, and if I let that asshole out of the box, everything I write will have an overtly political slant to it. That’s not who I want to be, so I don’t encourage that guy at all. Occasionally, when my local small town, Bastrop, Texas, does something that really irritates me, I let him rant, but that’s all. His last rant was about the Chicken Sanctuary being closed down. I’m happy to report that the local government is about as effective as our national government, and the downtown feral chickens have avoided trapping all through the summer and fall and are thriving mightily. It makes my heart happy, but that’s for another day and another post. But I digress, again.
The point is, I get a lot of communication about getting up early and sticking to my “system.” I want everyone to know that as much as I love the results, every single morning I have to go through a battle with my demons to just get started. That’s how my day starts. I’ve always said that the hardest part of my day is from bed to shower. Just getting started is my single biggest obstacle. I’d say “You can do it!” but that might be a lie. It’s not easy, and you can never give up. You have to dedicate yourself and focus and then apply solid willpower and force every single day. This is why it’s so important to have your goals well-defined. Otherwise, you won’t have the focus to get through your darkest hour.
But you can do it. I’ve done it, so have countless others. It is within you to get to where you want to me in life. All you need is dedication, patience, and time.
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