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Balance for Writers

The Art of Commitment

Commitment. Alcatraz_prison_jail_1009101_h

To me, the word conjures up images of confinement to a mental hospital or a jail, which gives you a good idea of the negative cast I imbue it with.  And I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one.  We creative types like our lives free and easy, unshackled by any kind of constraints.  We want to be free to create when and where we like, on the spur of the moment, or not for months, whenever the spirit motivates us.

Uh-huh. 

Turns out that old "don't box me in" attitude really isn't the best for a regular creative practice because it can foster a tendency to soar completely away from your writing.  And it turns out that a healthy dose of commitment is exactly what is needed to keep you at it.

So let's talk a bit about commitment and what it looks like:

1.  Commitment isn't big, it's little. It's about returning to the page, over and over again, even when it's really difficult and you don't want to because you don't know where to go next.  Commitment is about making the decision to write again and again and again, and it is measured in minutes, the minute it takes for you to decide to do it, not hours.

2.  Commitment might be painful. Because it's sitting down to write at the appointed time when you've got a terrible headache and would really rather go take a nap.

3. Then, too, commitment might actually feel good.  You're making regular progress on your novel.  You write every day on your memoir and suddenly you see the arc of your life in a way you never have before.  You're making great progress on the WIP.  These are all things that will make you feel good, and fuel the desire to keep writing.  But they only happen through commitment.

4. Often the worst part of commitment is thinking about it.  Your brain can actually trick you out of committing to a writing session, if you start thinking about how you don't know what the next scene should be or how to write it.   Sometimes you sigh and wring your hands and worry about the writing and then when you get to it, everything is fine.  And you wonder what all the fuss was about.  Obsessing about it is way harder than doing it.

5.  Commitment is satisfying. Yeah, it's hard, and your brain will try to trick you out of it, convincing you that cleaning the kitty litter or mopping the kitchen floor is a necessary activity, but ultimately if you keep up with your commitment to your writing, you'll find enormous satisfaction in it.

6.  Commitment is a muscle.  The more you exercise it, the stronger it gets.

7.  Commitment is the only thing that gets the writing done.  Because without commitment to the craft, there is no writing.  Period.

How do you get committed?  What tricks or techniques do you use to get to the page regularly?

**If the project you've made a commitment to write is a novel, consider signing up for my Get Your Novel Written Now class, which begins August 14th.  We'll discuss all the things you need to know to write a draft, and also talk about the writing process.  It's going to be great fun!  Go here for more info.

Photo by kathycsus.

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