If Consistency is Key… How do We Get There?

If you’ve never heard of Marie Forleo before, I really encourage you to check out her site. She’s a business/life coach and does these weekly Q&A Tuesdays to which I subscribe. This Tuesday, her post really inspired me. It’s all about How to Be Consistent.

Her principles apply to so many battles that we each try to overcome in life, be it weight loss, quitting smoking, attaining a work goal or … writing! I’ve broken down her 5 Steps to Consistency below and really looked at them from a writing lens.

Keep Your Eye On Your Why

It’s great to set a goal, but you need to be really clear on what your goal is and why it’s important to you. In writing, it’s a completely different goal to finish your book versus to have it published. If you want it published, how do you want it published?

My why, my goal in writing is to write women’s fiction on issues that are important to me, yet bring humour into peoples’ lives. My first book focuses on standing up for yourself, my second has a focus on forgiveness and the third on long-distance relationships. All of these elements are important to me and I believe that I have something different to say. That’s why I want to be published and have others read my work. I want to hear that it’s helped someone else, they’ve enjoyed it, etc. Does it matter if it’s traditional or self-published? Not necessarily. I’m going to give traditional publishing my best shot, but if I fail, self-publishing is a perfectly reasonable option to reach my audience and my goals. My ‘why’ doesn’t require one alternative or another.

What’s your why?

Pick Your Battle

I love how Marie Forleo focuses on picking your SINGLE battle. We can all have many goals, many books we want to write, but to get on the road to consistency, she says you need to focus on one battle at a time.

I have about seven story ideas on paper and the pant-ser in me wants to start writing certain scenes of each of them now. All of them.

Where will that get me? A few pages of seven books and many years down the road until any are completed? The feeling of being overwhelmed by the workload which may lead to me ultimately quitting? That’s no good.

“Pick one thing and make that a habit, then you can add something else,” says Forleo. I completely agree. This was true of my 70lb weight loss journey, and logic tells me that it will be true of writing.

I call myself a sprinter, saying that I get the best writing done in chunks. At the moment I do, but have I really given daily writing a try? Nope. So how do I know what the alternative is? Would 30 minutes of writing a day get me closer to my goal, to being a consistent writer and to improving my craft? Maybe. So let’s try.

Schedule It

Why is it that we often schedule the things we are not looking forward to, and we don’t schedule time for our goals? When I lost all that weight, I did not miss my Weight Watchers meetings. They were in my weekly schedule, they were protected, and even when I was in Scotland or France, I made those meetings. The consistency helped me keep the excess weight off.

The same is/should be true of writing habits. I’m great at scheduling writing time during Camp NaNoWriMo or NaNoWriMo, so why not outside of these challenges? Why is it not part of my every day? Laziness… that’s why.

The battle that I overcame, primarily due to scheduling and making it a habit, is blogging. I have committed myself to posting 2-3 times per week and I’ve done that for two years. I talk to other bloggers that blog when they feel like it, which is fine, but I doubt they schedule time for their blogs the way I do. Nothing wrong with that, but perhaps their ‘why’ for their blog isn’t as strong for them as mine is to me. I have a strong why, I picked the battle and I scheduled it.

Now I just need to start scheduling my book-writing time!

Ignore Your Feelings

Again, I love this strategy of Forleo’s. If I were to live my writing life by my feelings, the words would never make it to the page. I’d be dreaming of my ideas, or wanting that extra hour in bed. I come home from work exhausted at the moment (in part due to being in my third trimester – thanks, baby), and go straight for my laptop, not to write, but to zone out in front of YouTube or reality TV.

I need to ignore the feelings in my head that say “I don’t want to” and when I’m feeling like that, remind myself of my why. I can’t remember or find the exact quote that I’m reminded of, but there is something along the lines of live today as though you were the version of yourself that you want to be. Does the version of myself that I aspire to chill out all evening on the sofa, or does that person dedicate some time each day to writing, to sharing my stories, to having others engage with my work? You know the answer to that one…

Our feelings and our willpower serve many purposes, but achieving goals outside of our survival instincts are probably not high on our willpower’s motivation. Focus instead on what you want the most and ignore that voice in your head.

Catch That Wagon

Be it writing, weight loss, smoking, you name it… we all fall off the wagon from time to time. That’s part of the cycle. Get back on it! When I was on my weight loss journey, I absolutely had weeks where I went up a couple of pounds and for a while it’s soul-destroying. You ask yourself why you should even bother?

What helped me in weight loss, and it does in writing, was to remind myself how far I’ve come. We need to be a little kind to ourselves. Sure, I rarely reach my Camp NaNo goals, but I remind myself that I still wrote more in that month without reaching 50,000 words than I would have without signing up for the challenge.

Is your goal to write a book by December? Say it’s January and you’re 75% of the way there. Do you give up? NO! Find your why, re-motivate yourself and get back on that wagon. So you finish by March. Did the world end? What matters is the finished product. When you have that manuscript in your hands, you won’t care that it took an extra two months. You finished!

 

Forleo’s 5 Tips for Consistency apply across the board and I really hope you check out her page. She’s fun and quirky, and I always find her posts inspirational for one element of my life or another.

How do you get consistency in your life, writing or otherwise? What’s your why?  

 

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