By Alissa Johnson
Do you ever struggle to make time for writing? (Even as I type that, I know the answer. We're all human after all.)
Procrastination and avoidance are human traits, and yet so often I see writers turn the struggle to write into something far worse: evidence they're not meant to write.
If they say they like to write but they're not making time for it, maybe they're not really writers. Sound familiar?
Here's the thing. I don't buy it. There are plenty of legit reasons you might not show up for your writing: You're not sure what to do next. You're worried you might not be up to the task. It feels like a lot of work.
In the face of those doubts, it takes some serious motivation to make time for writing. The good news is that you can uncover the #1 insight that will keep you coming back to the page.
It's going to sound deceptively simple: understanding why you write. Here's why it's so important:
In some of my workshops, I ask writers to consider the things they do make time for and why. They often come up lists that include things like their families, getting outside, getting exercise, walking the dog, eating well, and their jobs.
You might think they show up for those things because they're obligations or others depend on them to do so. And while there might be some truth to that, these writers also uncover pretty powerful, personal reasons to do these things.
Being outside and walking the dog leave them happy and joyful. Getting up before the rest of the family for quiet time means they feel more energized to help others with their own needs.
So often, however, these same writers haven't thought through the reasons they write. And I don't mean reasons like "I want to finish a book." I mean the deep down, personal reasons they bother to show up at the page.
When you understand why you write, it can be a powerful motivator.
Here are some of the reasons that came up in a recent Writing Reset I hosted through WritingStrides:
- Fun, joy, emotional release, reflection, surprise at what surfaces, the challenge of creating a well-written piece
- To reunite all the pieces of every part of myself and make myself whole
- To explore ideas as possibilities: I haven't lived this long and learned nothing.
Reading through them gave me the chills—those are some pretty powerful reasons. When you understand that writing makes you feel more whole, figuring out how to make time and determine your next steps become challenges not obstacles. It's much easier to rise to the occasion.
You can start to uncover your "why" today, using pen and paper. Start with I write because...
As you answer that prompt, here are a few things to consider:
- Don't settle for your first answer. Ask yourself why at least five times.
- Resist the urge to focus solely on the outcome (i.e. publish a book or impact other people). There will be times during the writing process when that outcome feels very far away, which means that it won't always be enough to keep you motivated.
- Consider what you personally stand to gain by writing.
- If you've done this before and it's been a while, consider the possibility that your reason for writing has changed.
If you'd like, share what you discover over on the Facebook page or leave a comment below and let me know. There's even more power in declaring it publicly!