Like many people, I love the ocean, and not just lying on the sand soaking in the sun—I love being in the water. I love trying to surf and doing it badly/thinking I look savvier than I do. I love the waves crashing into me and leaving my skin gritty for hours afterward.
Lately, stuck in quarantine, I fantasize about the next trip I’m going to take to the ocean.
The problem is that I hate the cold. So when the ocean is cold, I want to go in, but also not. (I know, this is very silly, but just stick with me for a moment.) To solve this problem, when I was young I came up with a trick—I knew that once I was in the water, I would get used to it and feel fine. I just needed to get myself out there.
So I summoned my childhood Baywatch-viewing memories and started pretending that I was a lifeguard going out to rescue someone. I didn’t ease in; I plunged in, performing my high-stakes “duty”, and once I’d dunked my head under, the worst was over and I could drop my David Hasselhoff fiction.
I’ve now used this trick for 15 years.
There’s a version of this that you can use in your writing life. Think of all of the things you do and don’t want to do—show up for work; make food for yourself (or find it somehow); get up when your alarm goes off. Why do you do these things? Because you have to.
If you’re struggling to get your writing done, consider this: Try creating a fictional obligation—it can be as ridiculous as you want:
(That last one may not be such a fiction given our mind-body connection—when I was in my late 20s and a miserable lawyer with no time to write, I was breaking out in hives and convinced I had a stomach ulcer. But that’s another story.)
Sure, it’s silly, and sure, it requires some imagination. But we’re writers. Conjuring is what we do.
By the way, I’ve decided to give this blog some...drumroll...structure!
Today I wrote about tricking ourselves into getting the writing done. The next few weeks are likewise going to be on the theme of finding motivation to get the writing done.
The themes for the five months after motivation will be:
June: How to conquer self-doubt
July: How to find your perfect process
August: Let’s learn from the masters
September: My favorite literary craft tips
October: Cooking & Gearing up for NaNoWriMo
Just kidding, not cooking. Unless I get really good at it between now and then, in which case, you have a little over four months to sharpen your knives.
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Photo by Guzmán Barquín on Unsplash