I do not mean to dash anyone's hopes right at the beginning of this post, but I am offering a preemptive apology for the length and content of what I am writing. It's not that this will be offensive or derogatory, but it might not meet the high expectations held by my loyal readers. In fact, some may already be groaning in anticipation of what I am about to talk about. (Don't worry - it's not about poetry.) I am actually going to talk about something I do to keep myself active and engaged - it's called the Writer's Promise.
In short, when it gets tough to push myself into typing/writing/creating, I force myself to do so by making the Writer's Promise. You might have seen different versions of this used for other tasks or occupations, but in case this is new to you, here it is. Whenever I have an obligation to write but intense trouble in getting myself started, I make myself a simple two-step promise. In short, it is:
- I do not have to write
- I will not do anything else until I have written
Simple? Yes, though it might seem too much so. The important part of this Promise depends on the individual's ability to keep this self-commitment, even though nobody else will hold them accountable. If the writer can't keep their own word, then the rest doesn't really matter. However, keeping this promise forces the writer to confront their situation and not let go of it until it is resolved.
That's the tough part.
When I am having trouble and make this promise, here's what it looks like: I am sitting in my chair, staring at the screen, ignoring my MANY distractions as I repeat to myself, "It's writing or nothing." No reading, no Netflix, no napping, no anything else. Just me, the keyboard, and my personal insistence that I keep my promise and commit to what I have set out to do. I do not allow myself to give in, to say, "Well, I tried and that didn't work, so I give up," and I don't allow some distraction like the laundry to suddenly become of the utmost importance. I sit there and keep my promise as long as I have to.
Believe it or not, it works. Furthermore, it also gives some positive reinforcement since I now recognize that I have kept my word and met my obligation to write.
Now, of course we have to tell our selves that what we create might not be perfect, and we might not win the Pulitzer for that particular piece. However, we continue to press ourselves along the road of being a writer, and there's nothing wrong with that.
So that is what I apologized for in advance. I hope you can accept this.