“Habit is more important than Inspiration.” –Anonymous
Truer words have never been spoken. Because after all, inspiration is everywhere. We need only clean out our closets to find pages of ideas and unfinished stories/poems/screenplays/whatever.
From the sweet scent of petunias wafting through the open windows, to the conversation overheard at Starbucks, to the wispy clouds passing across the full moon, our problem is not inspiration; it is habit. We are not taking advantage of that 1% inspiration and we are deluding ourselves that this is the culprit of our lack of productivity.
Speaking of which, think back to a time when you were at your most creative and productive. I’ll bet you were writing all the time. See? Habit. After all, that’s what being “productive” means, isn’t it? Bringing something into existence by working at it.
So I am challenging all of you to begin Writing 15 Minutes a Day on August 1. All you need is a pen, a journal, and a calendar. No, the calendar is not to mark off the days until August 31. It is to schedule your 15 minutes as if you were scheduling anything else you can’t get out of. Like, work for instance, or picking up your children from soccer practice, or fitting in the grocery shopping or laundry, or all of the other hundreds of things you do out of habit that take up all your time.
We are creatures of habit, but it seems like the only habits we stick to are ones that don’t nurture our soul. Or the ones that cause severe consequences. For instance, we go to work every day because if we didn’t we’d be broke and destitute, and living in a cardboard box (hopefully). We brush and floss our teeth because if we didn’t, we’d have disgusting, stinky breath and no one would want to kiss us let alone talk to us. We do laundry because otherwise we’d have to walk around naked and we’ve already decided that working out is nasty habit we’d rather not be bothered with.
Scheduling your 15 minutes is going to take some forethought and organization. Namely, when you can fit it in. Maybe it’s first thing in the morning before family members (and cats) wake up and demand breakfast. Maybe it’s after everyone has gone to bed and it’s just you and the starry night. Perhaps it’s on your lunch break, or commute to work, or a few stolen moments locked in the bathroom when you’re pretending to take a shower. Whatever time works for you is the time you’re going to schedule it. Put it on your calendar in PERMANENT magic marker. Treat that time as if there were dire consequences–like stranding your kids on the soccer field. After all, there are dire consequences; you will feel like crap if you don’t do it. But the subject of self-inflicted guilt is another topic entirely.
And don’t be afraid if you find fitting in your 15 minutes will change from day to day. You don’t have to spend the whole month writing at 5:00 am if, for instance, you find something else on your schedule conflicts with it (like sleep). All you have to do is find the time that works best for you each day.
You may also choose to use writing prompts to get you writing. But the Writing Lounge’s 15 minutes a day program will not provide any prompts. Basically, because you don’t need them. You are writers, you have brains, you have found inspiration everywhere (even in your overstocked closet).
This program is not about writing the next Great American novel or Pushcart prize-winning poetry or Academy Award-winning 120 page screenplay–that comes later after you have developed your nasty habit and, like smoking, just can’t break it. No, this month is all about getting words down on paper. (And hey, it’s cheaper than buying a pack of cigarettes.) You will not be hearing Halleluiah sung in the background or see angels fluttering their wings around your head. You will be sweating, toiling, cramping, and quite possibly cursing. But hard work does not come without its reward.
The prize is to find that at the end of the month we feel good about ourselves, we feel accomplished, and we feel that exhiliration of writing again. Our muse is happy, we are happy, and we have banished all that self-guilt that has brought us down in the past.
Then, and only then, can we grab our inspiration and begin creating a work of a lifetime.
Are you up to the challenge?