I will preface this post by saying that it was inspired by a Psychology Today article I read on how to trick yourself into getting your resolutions to stick. As I read on, I couldn't help but smile and think that the same concept may just work for writers. I don't know about you but when I'm stressed it's the process of sitting down and writing that's hard. Not the actual writing. But the "going to go write" process that's hard.
So, I've twisted the article and applied the methods to writers (read the original article here).
1) Tell yourself you aren't allowed to write.
The article says "make the desired behavior the forbidden fruit." This is easier than you might think to apply to writing. Almost every computer on the planet as a "notepad" program installed (or maybe some other variation if you are a Mac user). While at work, pop open the notepad section and continue your work in progress during bouts of downtime at work. This isn't always easy to do and I'm fairly certain I read somewhere that JK Rowling got fired or something because of doing similar behavior with Harry Potter. But maybe try to sneak in time during a 15 minute break or lunch and pretend you are doing it...on the sly.
If don't have the gumption to do this at work (and I don't blame you), try the same tactic by working on a brand new idea in the middle of your work in progress. If you aren't a novelist, work on an article. Tell yourself that you are sneaking behind your own back and working on something you shouldn't. Cheat on your novel for a little bit. (Just don't tell your muse)
2) Think about what your current writing habits will bring you in five (ten? fifteen?) years from now.
Next thing I read was to think about how your current behavior will affect your future. Like if I ate a piece of chocolate cake every day for five years, I'm sure that my weight in five years will be...extremely high. Or if I cut out that extra cup of coffee every day for five years that will probably help me a lot for long term benefits (I drink too much coffee; me cutting back is me drinking only three cups a day instead of five).
It doesn't have to be a huge write-a-novel-every-day type of habit, but if you dedicate yourself to writing 500 words every day, or completing one notebook every month, or submitting your story to a contest once a month that will add up in five years. Go even smaller too if you need. Not at 500 words a day yet? Sit with your notebook out and pen in hand while you watch television. You don't even have to say you will write anything down. But take on that habit. Once you get used to that, turn off the television.
3) Understand the benefits and consequences of writing (or not writing).
I have become more focused on writing the latter half of this year. Not as much as I'd like but as a result my focus has been redirected away from my blog. I have learned the consequence of writing is that my blog doesn't get near as much attention and I tend to reduce the number of blogs I read at all.
But what are the benefits of NOT writing? Come on, you know there are some. You can catch up on your favorite shows (and not so favorite shows), spend more time with family or friends, clean, read, paint your nails, write on your blog, read other blogs, social network, devote more hours at work, etc. These are good things! It's not like the alternative to writing is dealing drugs and robbing banks. There are wonderful and awesome things to do besides write. And there are benefits to these things too.
So, I'm not saying to completely give up your enjoyments, hobbies, pastimes and relationships on behalf of the printed word, but do know there will be a lot of days where you are not devoting as much time to the things you do enjoy. Writing does have consequences. So does not writing. I guess it all depends on your ability to balance everything and figuring out where you can start redirecting your time spent.
What are you tips for balancing your writing life with everything else? What tips can you share?