How I’m Beating Resistance, One Word at a Time

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My biggest writing hurdle has always been consistency. I get “inspired” to write for a few days, or weeks, then lose my motivation just as quickly, and avoid the blank screen for months, even years.

The longer I stay away, the harder it is to get back. I’ve abandoned plenty of half-written blog posts, and filled dozens of notebooks with my private handwritten ramblings, but my blogging has remained at a standstill for over a year.

Why does this happen?

Anyone who’s ever embarked on a creative endeavor knows the paralyzing fears and self-doubt that plague most all creators. In The War Of Art, Steven Pressfield even gave them a name: RESISTANCE.

The voices in our head are rarely positive or encouraging, and we believe the cruel lies they tell us. Our inner critic feeds our fears and tears us down until it’s easier to just give up than to create.

So what am I gonna do about it?

One of my strongest beliefs about developing good habits is that making small, incremental changes is far more effective for producing permanent results than big, drastic, all-or-nothing efforts. To quote one of Gretchen Rubin’s Secrets of Adulthood:

“What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.”

Slow and steady really does win the race. This approach has helped me manage my finances, health, and home for years, so why not apply it to my writing?

That’s it! I will steadily chip away at my fears / writer’s block / RESISTANCE by writing at least 100 words every day for the remainder of 2018. A hundred words isn’t too intimidating or time-consuming. They don’t have to be perfect. They just have to be written. 

Honest words. My words.

I will dig my way out of this deep, dark hole — ONE WORD AT A TIME.

And if you find yourself languishing in the same hole, I hope you’ll start digging too. 

~PEACE~

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Quote: Keep the Poet Alive

“The only way to love a person is not, as the stereotyped Christian notion is, to coddle them and bring them soup when they are sick, but by listening to them and seeing and believing in the god, in the poet, in them. For by doing this, you keep the god and the poet alive and make it flourish.”

~Brenda Ueland, If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit

A Few Good Reasons to Appreciate Your Day Job

Find your passion! Follow your dreams! Quit your day job!

Great advice, but what if you’re not ready to follow it? Maybe you don’t even want to. There’s nothing wrong with earning a decent living from a “day job” while nurturing and developing your creative side outside of work. Most of us weren’t meant to be or do just one thing. We’re complicated individuals, with multitudes of interests and abilities. We were never meant to define ourselves by what we do to earn a paycheck.

Austin Kleon sums it up perfectly in his bestseller Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative:

“The truth is that even if you’re lucky enough to make a living off doing what you truly love, it will probably take you a while to get to that point. Until then, you’ll need a day job.

A day job gives you money, a connection to the world, and a routine. Freedom from financial stress also means freedom in your art. As photographer Bill Cunningham says, “If you don’t take money, they can’t tell you what to do.”

A day job puts you in the path of other human beings. Learn from them, steal from them. I’ve tried to take jobs where I can learn things that I can use in my work later — my library job taught me how to do research, my Web design job taught me how to build websites, and my copywriting job taught how to sell things with words.”

Your day job buys you some breathing room in the budget. It pays the bills, and hopefully provides you with some savings and disposable income for travel or other meaningful expenditures that contribute to your overall happiness.

Hopefully, your day job offers you additional benefits, such as health insurance and retirement savings, to further enhance your (and your family’s) financial security.

Having a day job takes the pressure off of pursuing your passions, making it easier to enjoy them when money isn’t a factor.

The structure and schedule of a day job forces you to use your free time more efficiently.

Your day job may provide more social interaction than the “lonely creative life” of an artist, writer, etc. You may also make valuable contacts and connections for your freelance/consulting/side-gigging self.

You can learn valuable skills at your day job that may transfer into other areas of your life, both now and in the future. Everything you’ve done in your life so far has made you who you are today. Don’t discount any of it.

You may be passionate about some aspects of your day job, such as marketing or workers’ rights, that keep you engaged and involved in activities you enjoy.

Maybe you actually LIKE your day job. It’s OK to admit it! It may not be what you dreamed you’d be doing at this point in your life, but if it meets some of your needs and makes you happy most of the time, there’s nothing wrong with that.

~PEACE~

Cool Podcasts for Downshifters

I recently started listening to podcasts during my half-hour commute to & from work every day. I know, I know… I’m arriving at this party a little late, but this is by far the best new thing to happen to my daily routine in a long time! Why didn’t I think of this before? Now I’m arriving at my day job energized and motivated, with my mind full of new input for my writing and creative pursuits. By the time I get home, I’ve usually jotted down a few new ideas and resources that I can’t wait to research and start working with.

Plus, podcasts are FREE, and soooo much safer than trying to read a book while I’m driving.

Since I’m just getting started, this is my very short list of the podcasts that have inspired me so far. I hope they’ll do the same for you. If you know of any other great podcasts that have helped you find balance, simplify your life, improve your writing, pursue your passions, live a healthier life, or form good habits, please share!

The Minimalists Podcast

In their new podcast, just launched last month, The Minimalists Joshua Fields Milburn and Ryan Nicodemus discuss living a meaningful life with less stuff. This is the podcast that convinced me that podcasts were a good idea, so if you need convincing too, start here.

The Portfolio Life with Jeff Goins

As he does in his books, Jeff Goins shares thoughts and ideas that will help you to pursue work that matters, make a difference with your art, and discover your true voice. Episode 003, “How to Chase a Dream Without Quitting Your Job,” is a must-listen. His guest list is a who’s-who of today’s heavy-hitting inspirational speakers and authors. The episodes featuring interviews with Gretchen Rubin (018) and Tim Ferriss (004) are among my favorites so far.

Speaking of Gretchen Rubin…

Happier with Gretchen Rubin

The #1 best-selling author of The Happiness Project shares her practical advice about happiness and good habits in this “lively, thought-provoking podcast.” Sometimes it gets a little corny, and her topics are widely varied, so I’m picky about which episodes I listen to, but Gretchen’s honest tried-and-true advice usually manages to enhance my happiness in unexpected ways.

And Tim Ferriss…

The Tim Ferriss Show

“Self-experimenter” and best-selling author Tim Ferriss “deconstructs world-class performers from eclectic areas (investing, chess, pro sports, etc.), digging deep to find the tools, tactics, and tricks that listeners can use.” I haven’t had a chance to listen to many episodes, but I love everything Tim does, and his wide-reaching guest list – from Seth Godin to Jamie Foxx – is guaranteed to engage and inspire.

Over It And On With It with Christine Hassler

Life coach and author Christine Hassler coaches live callers on the problems – and opportunities – we all face in relationships, careers, health, transitions, finances, life purpose, spirituality, or anything else they have questions about. She uses her signature balance of practical tools and spiritual principles to help us all overcome the obstacles that hold us back from living the lives we were meant to live.

All of these podcasts, and thousands more, are easily accessible via the iTunes store. Happy listening (and learning)!

~PEACE~

Balance – Duh!

So I’ve reached the end of my month of daily blogging, and I have to admit, I’m glad it’s over! Don’t get me wrong. It was a great challenge, and I’m certainly proud of my accomplishment, but sometimes I felt like I was neglecting some other important areas of my life. Sleep, exercise, reading — all things I enjoy and need — were pushed to the back burner on more than one occasion.

Thinking about Downshifter’s Journal all the time occasionally detracted from my ability to be fully present and live in the moment. Pleasant diversions became annoying interruptions. The looming daily deadline sometimes got in the way of enjoying time with friends and family.

But it was SO worth it! I learned a lot about prioritizing. And focus. I learned that I can accomplish a lot more in a day than I previously gave myself credit for. Now I’m looking forward to relaxing for a few days and catching up on my reading. And I fully intend to maintain a regular, although probably not daily, blogging habit.

I’m hooked!

~PEACE~

Two Weeks In!

I’m almost two weeks into my commitment to write a blog post every day for the month of May, and I haven’t let myself down yet. In addition to the great sense of accomplishment I’ve gotten from setting a goal and sticking with it, I’ve learned a few other things along the way.

  1. The momentum of a daily habit is a powerful force.
  2. No matter how busy some of my days turned out to be, I could always find a tiny bit of time to write — no excuses!!
  3. The WordPress community is filled with so many amazing, inspiring, and talented writers/bloggers.
  4. Having people from all over the world read my writing, and respond positively to it, is such a high!
  5. When I focus on something that I love to do, everything else in my life seems to fall into place and go more smoothly.
  6. If I can do it, so can you.

After my monthly challenge is over, I WILL continue to write and work on Downshifter’s Journal every day, although I’ll probably post a little less frequently. But then again, let’s see how I feel in 2 more weeks…

~PEACE~

 

 

Commitment and Accountability

According to Gretchen Rubin, in her latest book Better Than Before, one of the best strategies for forming a new habit (and sticking to it) is the Strategy of Accountability.

“Accountability is a powerful factor in habit formation, and a ubiquitous feature in our lives. If we believe that someone’s watching, we behave differently. Deadlines help us keep the habit of working. Late fees help us pay our bills on time. Grades help us study. Attendance records help us get our children to school on time. When we believe that we may be held accountable for our actions — even when we’re accountable only to ourselves — we show more self-command.”

I am invoking this strategy by declaring publicly, right NOW, my commitment to publish a new post on Downshifter’s Journal every day during the month of May.

My posts won’t necessarily be long, or brilliant, or PERFECT, but they WILL be there every day for you, my followers, to hold me accountable!

I’m really looking forward to challenging myself, developing my writing practice with you, and making Downshifter’s Journal a daily part of my life (and, I hope, yours). Please don’t let me fall behind, and in exchange, I’ll try not to get all preachy, or bore you too much.

“Don’t be a writer, be writing.” – JamesClear.com

~PEACE~