This Buddhist proverb pretty much sums up my motto for the rest of the year.
After a week of fear, doubt, and self-loathing, I realized I needed to do something drastically different.
I decided to simplify my daily goal.
I also decided to trick my brain a bit.
What do I mean by that?
Well, in terms of simplifying, I’m now just doing 30 minutes of writing per day. Every day. Seven days a week.
30 minutes. Seems like nothing, right?
That’s where the tricking the old brain part comes in.
When I made the goal of writing for up to 3 hours each day, I’d think about those hours and think, wow, that seems like such a long time. Writing is so hard. Do I really want to do it for three hours today?
Maybe I could just sit here and keep reading this book? Maybe I need to wash the dishes? Maybe I need to dust my stuffed animal collection? Maybe I need to send out some more tweets? The excuses and procrastination techniques went on and on.
Because that 3-hour “writing time” sounded like too much work.
When something is hard, and there’s no one requiring you to do it, and there’s no immediate reward, it’s really hard to make myself do that thing. With fear, doubt, and self-loathing breathing down my neck, it’s even harder.
So, I needed to do something regarding my writing that wouldn’t make me want to avoid it. Writing for 30 minutes a day sounds more like a treat to me than work. I needed to “trick” my brain into doing the thing I wanted to do.
How’s it going?
I’ve been writing 30 minutes a day, every day. I even wrote for 40 minutes on one day. Yep. 10 minutes more. I’m allowed that. I’m committed to writing for 30 minutes, but if I want to do more, I can.
And you know what?
I can get a lot done in 30 minutes! I’ve surprised myself this week with the progress I’ve made on my story planning, armature, and three-act structure. Yesterday, I even think I cracked my story’s spine!
Who would guess that doing less work would lead to better work?
I think I’ve always known this (I’ve believed in the 20-hour work week for as long as I can remember) but it’s taken me a long time to realize that it can apply to my writing as well. It’s making me rethink everything about my daily schedule and routine.
What if every task felt more like play and less like work?
My mind reels at the possibilities!
For now, as I wrap my head around this new way of being, I’m just going to keep walking in the right direction. In time, I know I’ll get there.
Peg Cheng is the author of The Contenders, a middle-grade novel centered on the question, can enemies become friends? She is also the founder of Prelaw Guru, a law school application consulting company, and the author of The No B.S. Guides for prelaw students.