You know how it gets when you haven’t written for awhile. Your long lost creativity goes into overdrive coming up with excuses. The to-do list multiplies like rabbits. You discover things on Pinterest like carving avocado pits. Even the laundry begins singing a siren song. That’s when I know it’s gone too far.
If you’re like me, you probably find yourself wondering: Why is it so hard to do something I actually enjoy doing?
There’s actually a science to this, and it applies to any habit you want to cultivate. It has to do with breaking inertia.
When a rocket launches, did you know that it uses more fuel achieving liftoff and overcoming gravity than it does the entire rest of its mission? That’s why the boosters and fuel canisters are jettisoned after launch — the work of breaking inertia is done.
It’s simple physics. An object at rest tends to stay at rest. If you haven’t written for a while, there’s a pretty high likelihood you’re going to continue not writing because that’s your set point. Your current state is inertia — until some other force launches you into action. And just like a rocket, it’s going to take most of your effort just getting back in the game.
Sitting down at the computer the first time is going to take effort. Staring at that blank screen and getting a single sentence on the page is going to make you wince. Turning that sentence into a paragraph, and then a page and not deleting it all will require you to make a will save. And then, you’ll have to call it a night so you can come back the next day and do it again even though you still aren’t sure you’re cut out for this writing thing.
Every writer is affected by some kind of gravity: fear, self-doubt, crippling expectations of perfection, laziness, worry that you’re too “whatever” to write, someone told you it’s a waste of time, you suspect it’s a waste of time… the list is endless. These things keep you tethered to your Netflix and your Hulu watching stories others have created instead of creating your own.
Willpower, desire, passion, love of the craft, escape… you know what your rocket fuel is. You know what drives you to sit down and write. It’s perfectly normal for it to feel like work when you’re getting back into the swing of writing. You’re breaking gravity and that’s no small task. But again, just like a rocket, once you get moving, it becomes easier to stay moving.
Here’s how you get past it.
You set a launch date. You pick a launch time. You make sure you have everything ready to go. You countdown the days, then the hours. You sit in the cockpit of your favorite chair and you fire up the computer. And then, you write.
Ten minutes. Give it ten minutes. Chances are, in ten minutes, you’ll decide you can go twenty. And at twenty minutes, you’ll forget this was ever such a big deal in the first place because you will have achieved liftoff and the only place left to go is up.
Toward the stars.