Tag Archives: writing

Trying to Get Out of My Own Way

I haven’t written much in weeks. And most of that was just some training log notes. I shouldn’t say “just”, because writing is writing, and even in training logs I try to write well.

I tend to build up an anticipation and pressure around writing. Usually it’s about writing xxx number of words, or so many blog posts, or even staying up-to-date on training log notes. The anticipation and pressure become so great that they become a barrier to even trying.

This phenomenon isn’t solely limited to writing for me, and it dates back over 20 years. The first specific incident I remember was related to writing, though. In 5th grade, I ended up getting myself homeschooled for about the last half of the school year. I had a school district provided tutor/teacher. I kept getting behind on assignments. The knowledge wasn’t an issue, I’d just build so much anticipation and pressure about the assignments. My tutor recognized this and gave me a due date for a history report that he was pretty sure I’d miss. I did, and he explained that he thought I’d miss it. I think he said it was procrastination and overwhelming myself, and he was pretty close.

I’m pretty sure the same phenomenon was why I ended up homeschooled in the first place. I’d worry so much that I’d get sick in the mornings either at home, or on the way to school. I think I did finally finish the report, but I don’t really remember how rest of the school year went.

I had similar problems missing school days all the way through high school, culminating in leaving school halfway through my junior year. I took correspondence courses through the mail (internet courses weren’t around yet) for the second half. I went to community college through the Running Start program for my senior year of high school.

The anticipation and pressure still get to me sometimes. It’s not things that are actually mandatory like taxes or bills. Though I do usually procrastinate on my taxes. Sometimes it creeps into my business, unfortunately. Working for myself, there’s no one else to hold me accountable, so sometimes I find myself doing enough to get by rather than hustling to flourish. It’s a lot more invasive in creative endeavors, things that I want to do, and tell myself that I should do, like music, videos and, of course, writing.

I haven’t come up with a good way to overcome it when it does build up. If I don’t overthink whatever the task is and just get to work on it, I don’t have time to build that obstacle for myself, and there’s little resistance. Sometimes I can just ignore it and get to work, but that’s not yet a consistent strategy. Maybe I’ll find another way, or maybe I need to continue chipping at it and slowly build up the strength to act despite the pressure.

For now, I just know that writing again feels great.

Practice Making Habits

Changing habits and creating new habits are both incredibly difficult. It takes a lot of practice, and, at least for me, a lot of failures.
Missteps and setbacks are frustrating, but you just have to keep plugging along until the habit takes hold.

New habits seem to be a little easier for me to form than changing old habits. As an example, making my daily gratitude journal a habit took about a month or so. On the other hand, some of my food habits took years to change. Thankfully, once they started to change, further changes became a little easier.

I’ve found that starting small is much more effective for me. Currently, I’m trying to make writing a daily habit. I’ve been trying off and on for about a year, mostly off. Most of that time, I was setting expectations too high for myself, so looking back it’s not a surprise that I failed.

I made it 6 days in a row last week, then missed Sunday. I was a little disappointed when I went over my daily to do list and didn’t get to check off “write”. But I can either give up or start again, and giving up certainly won’t add to my happiness. I got right back to it on Monday.

As sort of a minimal base, I try to write about my daily runs on the same day. Keeping up with that certainly helps. As much as I would like to dive in and get 1000-2000+ words all toward a couple projects I’m working on, I know that diving into the deep end like that will likely result in another failure and another setback. That said, if I get in the flow and the words start just pouring out, I’m not going to force myself to stop.

Another thing I’m working on, which I have a feeling is going to be a long-term project, is reducing procrastination. This one has been incredibly difficult. I’ve found that I have to start really small. It might be something as simple as telling myself that I will feed my dogs after this Youtube video is over without getting sucked into the next one. I still often struggle with tiny things like that, or telling myself that I’m going to work on packing and shipping things I sold on eBay at a certain time. Then trying not to get wrapped up in something else and rationalizing that it can wait because the post office doesn’t close for a few hours. I’ve become pretty good at rationalizing my procrastination.

Sometimes I find myself thinking that it’s not really that important if I do these little things right away as long as I get to them sometime. (Although, Sigurd certainly won’t let me forget when it’s time to eat.) To overcome the negative self-talk, I have to remind myself that if I hold myself accountable for the little things, it’s going to make it easier to not procrastinate on the bigger, more important things.

It takes practice, sometimes a lot of practice. If you’re having trouble at one level, maybe step back and think about dropping it down a level. It takes some of the pressure off.

As Jim Rohn said, “Make measurable progress in reasonable time.” With my experience in other areas, I know that, as long as I continue stringing together small successes, I’ll get to where I want to be. It may take a week, or it might take a year.