How I Got Over Writer's Block #5: How to Commit to Process
|Image Credit: Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash|
How I Got Over Writer's Block is a series of posts where I share the ways I changed my approach to the writing process in order to make it easier to actually sit down and do the work.
By re-framing key elements in the creative process, I was able to start writing and publishing consistently.
In my first post of the series, I outlined how to overcome Resistance (that thing that stops you from sitting down to do your work) by simply learning to Touch the Keys (finding the tiniest task that you can commit to doing every day).
In my second post, I talked about how not to Break the Chain and how to Celebrate (aka - build consistency through the use of positive reinforcement).
In my third post, I talked about how to find YOUR best time to do the work.
In my fourth post, I talked about Lowering the Bar for each writing session, and how the 80/20 rule (aka the Pareto Principle) can help you let go of perfectionism.
How do you commit to process? By knowing yourself and by letting go of the outcomes.
Step 5 - Know Yourself
Who are you?
Wait, what does an existential question like that have to do with sitting down to write?
The only way you will develop a process that works for you, is by knowing who you are.
I change not by trying to be something other than I am;
I change by becoming fully aware of how I am.
Work within the confines of who you are, otherwise, you'll be setting yourself up to fail.
Judo (Japanese for “the gentle way”) emphasizes winning in combat by using your opponent's weight and strength as weapons against him, while preserving your own mental and physical energy.
In the case of getting yourself to sit down and write, your opponent is
you - the part of you that would prefer to pick fluff out of your belly button rather than sit down and do your work.
If you try to implement a system that goes against the grain of who you are, you're fighting your own nature and you will lose.
Use what you know about your opponent - you - to your benefit; work with who you know yourself to be; don't try to commit to a process that's based on who you wish you were; create a process based on who you are.
Example: If you're just not an early riser, don't try to commit to a process that demands that you become one or vice versa.
Personally, I'm not an evening person. Evenings my energy is low, my creativity is nil. Evenings, all my body and brain want to do is be "cuddly and snuggly" - meaning lying on the couch wrapped up in a blanket either reading a book or watching my latest Netflix obsession (possibly while knitting). If I tried to create a process of productivity for myself at this time of day, I wouldn't produce a damn thing.
So I don't. I'm a morning person, and that's the time I've created my process for.
Who are you and based on that, what is the process you can commit to?
Step 5.1 - Let Go of the Outcome
Ordinary people focus on the outcome.
Extraordinary people focus on the process.
Committing to the creative process is more important than results of the process.
The results aren’t in my control. The process is.
Consistency before intensity.
Start small and become the kind of person who shows up every day. Build a new identity.
Then increase the intensity.
I've had to completely step away from outcomes as goals; as long as I've engaged in my process, then I consider the day a success.
It doesn't matter how much or how little I produce; currently that's not my metric of success, because I'm still practicing the art of showing up - consistency before intensity.
I recognize that I'm still at the CONSISTENCY stage of my process.
Where are you, with your process?
FIRST - Commit. Be consistent first.
Once your ability to show up for your process is as easy and consistent as your morning pee, then - ONLY THEN - worry about adding expectations around your output.
Consistency is more important than everything else. And it's easier to commit to being consistent when you haven't placed a grandiose expectation on the outcome.
Some days I can bang out two to three posts in my morning writing time, other days I feel as though I'm mentally swimming through molasses and I don't produce anything worthwhile. It doesn't matter, because I still sat down with the intention of producing and I did something.
I commit to the process because I need to honour my potential.
But I recognize that - at this stage - the surest way to kill my commitment to process is to expect any particular outcome. As soon as I do, sitting down to write feels as enticing as a rectal exam.
Therefore, my only expectation of myself is that I open my blog editor and look at all of my draft posts every morning.
A tiny, tiny commitment. So tiny.
If I do that, I've won the day.
Most of the times it means I will do something.
But I won because my process only says that I show up.
How do you commit to process?
By knowing yourself in order to develop a process that is unique to you, and by letting go of the outcomes so that you can more easily show up for the process.
Step 1 is overcoming Resistance by learning to Touch the Keys.
Step 2 is using Touch the Keys to avoid Breaking the Chain, and to Celebrate every time you add to the Chain.
Step 3 is finding the YOUR Best Time of day to Touch the Keys.
Step 4 is Lowering the Bar on your expectations for output in order to make it easier for you sit down and Touch the Keys.
Step 5 is about using Self-Knowledge to commit to a process that will work for you, and Letting Go of any Expectations other than just showing up.
Until next time, write on!