Practice matters. But sometimes, we don’t want to do it. We know it’s important but find countless ways to avoid it.
When you struggle to engage your practice – be it writing, drawing, meditation, prayer, exercise, or anything else – look for the root cause of the resistance. If you have a good reason, then you can address it. If you don’t, then you have no excuse not to practice.
Sometimes it’s helpful to have a conversation with yourself. Perhaps it will look like the one I had recently:
I don’t feel like writing right now – not at all.
Well, could you at least tell me why?
I don’t have enough time.
What else do you have planned for today?
Go on a walk. Read the news. Work. Take a nap. Eat. Hang out with my wife and daughter.
Are all of those activities more important than writing?
No. Writing is very important.
Then you can take at least half an hour to practice. Otherwise it really isn’t that important to you.
But I’m also tired.
A fair reason. But if I may ask, how tired are you?
I’ve very tired. I didn’t get a perfect night of sleep last night.
I’m sorry to hear that, what happened?
I got to bed an hour later than usual and woke up several times during the night.
That doesn’t sound all that bad. How could you be too tired to write?
I don’t know. I’m just tired.
Very well, if you’re tired, you’re tired. Just to be sure though, if there was a good book in front of you, could you stay awake long enough to read it?
Interesting. And what if you had access to the internet, could you browse the web and check email without falling asleep on your keyboard?
That’s a silly question. Of course I could.
Ahh. It seems you are not that tired. I cannot accept that as a reason for not sitting down and writing right now.
No buts. Give me another reason.
I lack confidence. I’m not a good writer.
Has anyone ever told you they liked your writing? Someone you respect as a writer perhaps?
OK, several people have.
Are those people liars?
Then you must be capable of producing good writing.
Only on rare occasions. Most of my writing isn’t good.
I don’t agree, but for a moment let’s pretend it’s true that you don’t write well. Do you want to be a good writer?
Yes, of course.
Then you’ll need to practice. You’ll need to create writing that isn’t good. How else will you improve? Stop giving me excuses. Why don’t you want to write?
I don’t know, I just don’t.
That’s not a valid answer. Give me a better one.
Ummm. I guess I’m lazy.
Now we’re getting somewhere. You’re in luck, there is a cure for laziness.
Really? What is it?
But I’m lazy.
Do stuff anyways.
That’s not a fun cure. Is there another way?
Do stuff anyways.
Are you sure?
Do stuff anyways.
OK, OK, I get the picture. But where do I start?
Wherever you want. Anything on the page is better than an idea in your head.
But what if it’s not good?
Do you intend to publish it as soon as you finish writing your draft?
Then you can edit it later.
I guess I could do that.
Any more excuses?
Then go write.
Let me tell you why I should not create
A short poem on this here Tuesday
You see the time of day is rather late
That makes it hard to think of what to say
You know that there are other things to do
That offer much more excitement and fun
You notice that with poetry I’m new
That means it will take ages till I’m done
These are a few of my excuses great
For putting off the crafting of verses
You see that trying would only frustrate
And I’d offer up a string of curses
Indeed I will not write a poem now
That is my solemn swear and honest vow
PHOTO: Walking on the beach is nice, but it isn’t your practice.