Your brain is a jerk and is going to sabotage you.
Writing habits are just that, habits, and trying to form a positive habit (just like exercising or cleaning more) is really, really hard. When writing, you have to force yourself to accept that your brain is going to desperately scream at you to do anything else until it learns to shut the hell up.
A lot of people are completely mystified that they can be so excited about writing up until the point where they actually have to write, and then it dies. Then you’re desperately refreshing tumblr, then you’re bizarrely washing dishes you’d normally hate to touch.
Your Jerk Brain recognizes that writing is going to be work, and your Jerk Brain wants nothing to do with anything that forces it to work hard. It’s the same reason why learning a new language or how to place a musical instrument is really hard once you get beyond the initial stage; it takes time and practice, and there is no instant reward. Your Jerk Brain hates this lack of reward, and is going to be banging on your skull walls for you to give up and play an instantly gratifying video game instead.
Bad habits are easy to form because the trigger is right there; see fingernails, chew fingernails. Good habits usually require more work and stronger triggers; a pen and paper does you no good unless you sit down and get beyond the first few words.
This is the problem. Question is, how to fix it?
- Form habits. Make schedules, practice keeping schedules. This is not easy, but if you can do it for work or school, you can do it for writing. Chunk out small amounts of time at first, then expand them.
- Make goals easier by making them smaller. Chunk your work into pieces. An accomplished goal could be a finished page, a character sheet, an edited paragraph. Instead of having the vague ‘write today’ goal, you now have a list of things to check off and make yourself feel better about.
- Reward yourself. This biggest problem your Jerk Brain has is that lack of reward; associate your writing time, good or bad, with some sort of reward. It doesn’t have to cost money or be something to eat. It can be anything that gives your brain that ding of rewarded pleasure; a break to listen to your favorite song, flipping through a new magazine, or a few minutes to check your messages. Don’t let your reward be too distracting unless you’re done for the day!
- Get Team You help. If you have nobody to write with in person, set up a writing time online with a bunch of friends. If you have a goal, ask your friends to check up with you to make sure you’re keeping it. Writing with other people can be very helpful, even if they aren’t there.
- Remind yourself why you want to write the story. It’s important to you. It made you so excited before. Sometimes you need that push that helps you remember why you need to be doing this. It’s okay. Make a list, put it where you can see it. Add to it when you hit those walls.
You can do this. Teach your Jerk Brain to do what you want to do!
i feel like the hardest part in getting proper started with a story is staying excited about it by the time you put pen to paper, or even after that. is that a sign to try something else, or a necessary stage of perseverance?