Many articles online motivate writers to practice every day. This is supposed to be the key to keep a flow of ideas and, eventually, succeed. Since people doing this kind of article are somewhat successful, I decided to try it.
This is something I have wanted to do for a long time. I knew that consistent practice is what helps build habits. Sadly, I failed over and over at this since I didn’t fully commit to it. This happened many times in the past, especially with exercise.
How exercising helped me
The pandemic motivated me to start exercising more consistently since I didn’t want to be out of shape once life returned to normal. For once, I decided to change strategy. Instead of going all-in and giving up after one week, I decided to take things slowly. I was focusing on the habit instead of the performances. That’s why I started to exercise for 2 minutes every day.
The time increased from 2 to 4, then to 8 until I decided that it was time to get serious about sports and bought a premium membership on Freeletics. I now exercise 5 days a week for 20 to 40 minutes, depending on what the coach prepared.
Exercising proved to me that slow but consistent progress works. I know that I could have speed things up, but I cannot guarantee that I will still exercise today. Since this worked for sports, there are no reasons it wouldn’t work for other habits I would like to build.
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Morning Is the Best Time
I think that exercising is a habit I’ll stick to for a long time. There are periods where it’s harder to get motivated, but they eventually stop, and I start exercising again. I think that this habit worked for me because I decided to exercise in the morning.
In the past, I tried to exercise when I came back from work or school. It might work for some, but it wasn’t the case for me. There are too many things that can happen in the day that could be used as an excuse. Many factors could affect my willpower, many of which I can’t control.
The story is different in the morning. You’re the only one responsible for what you do when you wake up. There isn’t any coworker inviting you to grab a beer or a project that burned you out. If you skip a session, that’s because you decided to do so.
And that’s where it matters. You’re responsible for maintaining the habit. You cannot use a third party as an excuse. If you fail, that’s because you decided to. It might sound a bit dramatic, but it isn’t. Life isn’t always predictable, and this is why having strict rules with some leeway for the unexpected is essential. In my case, I decided to work out five days a week. That way, I know that I can skip two sessions if I feel like it.
Daily Practice Is Important
When launching my blog, I wanted to publish one article each Monday. I wasn’t able to keep the rhythm in the summer because I didn’t write enough. I kept finding excuses and waited for one article idea to come. It happened but not frequently enough to maintain the publication frequency I wanted. In the meantime, I kept exercising five times a week throughout the summer, with few exceptions.
That’s because I built an exercising habit, but I didn’t for writing. The creativity muscle is something that must be stimulated. I had a time where I suddenly got an idea, jumped on my computer, and wrote an article in an hour. It happened twice. Besides, many online creators praise the daily writing practice as being something key to success. Austin Kleon, writer of many books, including « Show Your Work », said something exciting about the daily creative routine.
When doing something every day you find out it’s not that you have something to say it’s that you found out what you have to say.
There is a clear consensus that indicates that daily writing practice is essential. This applies to all creative work, not just writing. Taking the time, every day, to take a pen or your computer and write about something will unlock an endless flow of ideas. It will help you take the time to listen to your thoughts, something that rarely usually happens.
I admit that « write daily » is vague. There aren’t any rules or targets. That’s where you have to find what suits you the most. If you have to take some time to get into writing, you might want to get a word’s target. On the other hand, if you can sit and write, determine a given number of minutes where you want to write. Everybody is different, and each should find their appropriate rules.
You’ll Have More Time
I have to admit, I wasn’t sure if doing things in the morning was correct. I thought it would shift my day, and I would finish work much later. It freaked me out and kept me from trying to wake up earlier. For a long time, I thought about this idea without having the courage to try it.
Starting to exercise in the morning provoked a change in my mindset. I knew that I would work a little later, but I wouldn’t have to exercise once done. This made my evening way more enjoyable. I knew that, whatever I did, it wasn’t at the expense of anything else. I did my daily exercise and freed up my evening for leisure activities. Whether I decided to cook, have a beer with a friend, read or binge-watch a TV show, I did it all without regrets.
Just Try It
All those thoughts blocked me, I spent my time thinking and not acting. Being stuck in this mindset isn’t great since nothing happens, yet you think about what’s not happening, making you miserable.
I remember watching a Matt D’Avella video about his doubt when he wanted to start a YouTube channel. Even tho he was an accomplished videographer, he was still unsure about starting on YouTube. In the end, his wife motivates him by saying, « You have to do it, what do you get to lose? »
Most of the time, we are stuck in a sort of paralysis where we want to do something, but we don’t commit to it. In reality, we don’t have anything to lose, but we are afraid to start. During those times, ask yourself: « what do I have to lose »? I can bet that most of the time, you’ll answer nothing. It was many times the case for me.