Lately I’ve hit a new low. Schlumping around, depressed, full of self-pity with a generous side order of pandemic- and climate change-related dread. It’s the malaise with a million names, and it’s been in charge of me for the past long time.
Writing has seemed impossible. A “What’s the point?” monster moves in before I even sit down. Or it’s the “you deserve a rest” siren, with the Sleepy Stick. Or it’s the urgent need to clear out this drawer. This one. Right now. The Distraction Diva, always demanding attention — but especially if I’m about to sit down and write.
Enough. I’m done turning my back on my commitments. I finally have a plan that gives me a fighting chance. Here it is: I sit down at my desk at 10:00am and I write until 1:00pm, no matter how I feel about it. It’s the second part of that equation that makes all the difference. “No matter how I feel about it.” That means that tomorrow morning, let’s say I didn’t sleep so well or I’m just not ‘feeling it’. Too bad. 10:00am to 1:00pm, I’m writing. The material might not be my best. But my effort is. Or let’s say I suddenly I notice the pile of bills. That anxiety that burgeons into an almost emergency-like need to act. But I remind myself, “Those bills were there yesterday. They will be there after 1:00pm today. I can pay them then. NOTHING comes between me and my writing during these three hours.” There are books and workshops and webinars that will give you hacks for this. ‘Make your writing space inviting.’ ‘Write down why this is important and stick it on your bathroom mirror.’ ‘Choose an accountability buddy.’ Yeah, whatever. I’m sure all of that is helpful. But it can also turn into great fuel for the Distraction Diva. In my case, I spent five weeks researching, then choosing, then waiting for, then assembling a new writing desk. There were missing parts, mistakes in assemblage, and many do overs. It was a mess. It was everything except…writing. But now I have this new writing desk and I have to start. I don’t feel like it. I’m not inspired with an important message for the world. My confidence is in the basement. But those are all feelings. And my commitment clearly says, “no matter how I feel about it,” I will write every day. Fulfilling this commitment every day, plucks me out of the ‘amateur’ section of writers and places me squarely into the ‘pro’ section. I learned this from Steven Pressfield’s kickass book on getting over yourself, “The War of Art.” The amateur waits till she feels like it. The professional shows up every day and puts in the time. The amateur dreams of greatness. The professional just does the work, day in and day out. Most importantly, (quoting directly from Pressfield), “The amateur believes he must first overcome fear; then he can do his work. The professional knows that fear can never be overcome…[but] he knows that once he gets out into the action, his fear will recede and he’ll be okay.” The point is, I didn’t want to do anything this morning. But that didn’t matter because I’d made myself a promise. And if there’s one thing I really want in this world, it’s for my word(s) to matter. I’m a writer. I wrote my commitment down in words. If my own words don’t matter to me, why would they ever matter to anyone else? We create the world we live in using whatever thoughts live within us. My new world involves me writing from 10:00am to 1:00pm, no matter how I feel about it. The next frontier is my spiritual practice.
May all beings benefit.