I Can’t Stop Writing Even When I Stop
After a few months of writing something every single day (that is writing every day, but not necessarily posting every day), I sort of mailed it in last week.
I had a rough week in my personal life (it’s not anything I’m going to air out here), and writing took a back seat. Nothing was typed on my computer or handwritten in my journal for 5 days.
Part of me had this worry that I would never pick it up again, or at least it would be difficult to get back in the habit. But as I faced some of the things I was dealing with, my worry had to be pushed to the back burner as well.
As I read articles about writing everyone talks about establishing a daily writing habit. For whatever reason it took me years to finally do this. I knew it would be good for me. It would improve my writing, it would help me actually create content, it would build a routine that would be the foundation of a blog and birthing the book I’ve had clawing to get out of my heart for so long.
Stephen King is famous for writing every day, Jerry Seinfeld put an “X” on his calendar every day with a goal to not break the chain, and Jeff Goins regularly preaches the need for a daily writing habit.
These and other examples finally got through my thick skull and I did it.
Then I blew it.
I have read about not taking a day off because if you do it once, it’s easy to do it again. Which totally makes sense. An inch can become a mile with any habit or non-habit in life.
That’s why I don’t work out anymore.
I was on a schedule to workout with a good friend for a few months, then my wife and I got a puppy. The little guy would be up 3–5 times a night needing to go pee. It was like having a newborn baby!
I was so tired I couldn’t get up to work out. One day became two, then four, then a week. Eventually I was paying for something I wasn’t using. Finally I closed my membership.
A year later my wife and I joined a gym and were going together pretty regularly. We didn’t want to pay too much, so in our quest for cheapness we found a gym that was a 15-minute drive away. Our previous gym was a 2-minute drive.
One day we decided we didn’t feel like driving quite that far. Then we didn’t go for two days. A month later I was in the same exact situation I was in before — paying for something I wasn’t using.
The past 5 days of not writing I have felt this gym scenario play out in my mind at random making me feel like my writing was going to meet the same fate.
But here I am today, sitting at my computer. My personal crisis has gone from requiring my entire mental faculties to something a bit more manageable. And I have returned to my work, my love of writing.
A year ago, before I actually created a writing habit, I most certainly would not have come back. My writing would have been shelved for months until some lazy Saturday came along where I had nothing to do, and I would think to myself Hey, let’s try writing again.
But writing every day the last several months has built something into me that working out (or any other habit) never did. There is a love for the habit, for the grind of getting things done. I knew my writing needed to be put aside to deal with something important, but I missed it. I longed for life to settle down and let me start my habit again.
That same feeling wasn’t ever there with working out or any other habit in my life.
For one, I don’t know that I have ever established something daily as many days in a row as I have this writing thing. And two, I’m not sure if any other habit has captured my heart the way writing has.
I’m in love, I’m in love, and I don’t care who knows about it! —Elf
Writing is a magical thing. When you do it enough days in a row you can get bit by the bug and not be able to escape it. Its claws will be in you.
Skipping a day will feel like you’re fasting. Sure you can survive, but you’re still really freaking hungry. Eventually you have to eat or you will die.
I’m glad I “fasted” from writing for the better part of a week. Other areas of my life greatly benefited from it and needed more of my focused attention.
But honestly, who I was a year ago — before my habit was established — probably never would have returned. Yet this version of Adam, the one who has written every day for a few months, can’t stay away.
I caught the sickness. Life’s craziness can slow me down, but it can’t knock me off the track. The only way to get to where I’m going is to re-establish my habit.
Here’s to another several months in a row of writing.