I can’t work at a messy desk. I need to relax with a few games of FreeCell before I get started. This email is way overdue. Just let me throw in a load of laundry. Need to make that dentist appointment. If I don’t get this birthday card in the mail, it won’t get there in time. It will only take a minute.
My mind is very creative when it comes to making excuses, finding distractions, justifying work delays. It’s a daily battle, between my writing goals and my reluctance to start typing.
And yet–sometimes it’s not that hard. When I forget myself, my ego, the possible outcomes. When I can see large projects in the tiniest of segments. One segment that I did two days ago was simply to photocopy a quote I want to use in my latest work-in-progress. Maybe that was all I could get done that day, but it moved the work forward, however incrementally. Greg Louganis said, “Focus on skills, not results.” Whatever it takes to trick my mind into taking action, I’m all for. Good habits help. Opening up a blank document and writing even one word helps. Sometimes writing something else helps. But I’m pretty sure all those other things in that first paragraph above don’t help. They drain my mental and physical energy, and all of a sudden, whoops, it’s time to make lunch. So, I’ve learned to do it first, “it” being the writing, or at least some tiny smidge of writing. Like Mark Twain said, “The secret to getting ahead is to get started.”