Without deadlines, guidance, a team, and all of the walls that create structure, how do you keep writing?
I personally don’t think that it’s fair to say writing is like riding a bike. It’s more like an athletic muscle that has intermittent primes that can peak seasonally, annually, hell maybe twice a decade in your sleep. But one thing I know for sure is that you have got to keep writing.
Most writers know that when you put pen to paper, even a grocery list is a tale to be told, so what happens to the tale when there’s a deadline for it to be told? When it’s time to get down to business, the simplicity of a grocery list feels like a mountain that no one has climbed yet but you have 24 hours to scale. So where do you start?
Find your “Why”.
What makes your mind turn and run miles throughout the night? What drives your curiosities? If you don’t know yet, just know it does exist. It may be that you haven’t discovered or identified it yet, but it certainly exists inside you. The key to finding why is remembering when. When did you start writing, when did you enjoy reading something you wrote, when did you think to yourself, “I love this?” Maybe it was when you felt like you should hate it but you couldn’t close your laptop or put your pen down. Classic first steps to any story are to identify the who, the what, the where, the why—hint, hint— and the how. There’s no difference when it comes to exercising your writing muscle.
Unfortunately, I have yet to grow out of my procrastination phase. My why comes to me just a hair before the due date. So far, it has always come in perfect timing. My proudest moment remains in having to be a self-starter because I made the deadlines. My why manifested itself as my desire to be that incredible writer whose words grow and live far beyond me. My why was a tune in my head replaying the words, “you can’t be done if you don’t get started."
You can edit your way to perfection, you can duck behind a corner in fear of feedback, you can become the next Noble Peace Prize winner...once you get started.
I hope this is finding you at the right time. If I can serve as the appetizer for your why then so be it. Don’t forget to remind yourself that as a writer, you have all space and opportunity to be whoever you want, whenever you want. Remember that you write the narrative and the story is all yours to tell.
So hop to it.