We all know the magic of writing every day. Write a page a day — a mere two hundred and fifty words — and in a matter of months you’ll have a completed draft of your manuscript.
But if it’s so easy, why aren’t we all doing it? What is stopping us?
Is it truly a matter of finding the time or is it something more? I notice that when Life consistently intervenes to prevent me from getting that all-important butt-in-the-chair-time — what I like to call Butt Time — it’s because there is something about the writing itself that I fear.
The fear may not be apparent. It may be that the subject I’m writing about is more sensitive to relive than I consciously realize. It might be that I’m trying to write to please a perceived audience more than I’m writing something that will please me. Or it might simply be that I don’t know exactly where the story is going. Sometimes not knowing where the story is headed can be as frightening to a writer as a darkened room is to a child.
To say, “I don’t have enough time to write because ______,” (fill in the blank) is just an excuse. I think the hardest part about writing every day isn’t finding decent stretches of time. The hardest part is simply starting. The hardest part is that first step: sliding your butt in the chair, turning on your computer, opening your word processing document, and typing. If we can simply master that part, writing every day, whether it be ten words or ten pages, will become as automatic and unconscious as covering your mouth when you cough. It will simply be something you do.
I’d like to challenge everyone who reads this to pledge that, for the next six weeks, you’ll commit to writing at least one sentence a day on whatever project you’re currently working. That’s it. Just a sentence.
Of course, write more if you feel inspired. Write more if the spirit moves you. What I’m trying to get you to practice isn’t writing every day. What I’m trying to get you to practice is the start of the writing process. Sliding your butt in the chair, turning on your computer and typing.
Why six weeks? Behavioral studies tell us that if we can do something consistently for six weeks, we form a habit. Motivational speaker Brian Tracy said, “Form good habits and make them your masters.” Six weeks.
What’s stopping you? What about your writing do you fear? Please comment below. I’d love to hear from you.
Brian Mercer is the author of the supernatural YA novel, Aftersight (Astraea Press, 2013). He is also co-author with Robert Bruce of Mastering Astral Projection: 90-Day Guide to Out-of-body (Llewellyn, 2004) and The Mastering Astral Projection CD Companion (Llewellyn, 2007). A board member of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association and senior editor at Author Magazine, he lives in Seattle with his wife, Sara, and their three cats.