Are you having trouble writing…or maybe writing the way you once used to?Today's process prompt has two points of inspiration. The first is based on the cry I have heard from so so SO many writers that the pandemic is destroying their productivity. Even when it's not "The Pandemic™," it's the pandemic. If it isn't social distancing and risk assessment literally and directly affecting their ability to concentrate or enjoy writing, maybe that is making everything just a little bit worse. Life continues to be life-like—pandemic or no—with its break ups, deaths, massive upheavals, moves, and general lifey bumps, but toss in a pandemic and you have fewer support mechanisms, fewer mental resources, fewer enjoyed activities, and just fewer emotional reserves, and more baseline anxiety. I've seen more people unable to establish or reestablish a daily writing habit in the last couple of years than ever before. It's entirely possible that most of us could keep writing through most of these trials and clichés on our own. It's just that when the life is already being sucked out of you, there's an aggregate effect.
The second is a more personal font of inspiration. Recovering from cancer has been a slow process and I'm often not quite where I think I am in that process. I'm definitely doing better, but I can't seem to reach even my own modest goals most of the time. If I want to do three articles in a week, maybe I do one or two. I look at the calendar and think there's plenty of time to write a big article and then one of the kids gets sick.
Of course, I sing the praises of morning writing (and later a floating half hour of writing) if you're trying to jump start your creative flow, but sometimes even that seems impossible. Sometimes even thirty minutes here or there might be daunting or just getting up and getting out o, and then you need to take a step back even further.
Do not despair if you failed NaNo. Or if you can't seem to focus for long enough to get anything written. Or if you've tried to restart an hour of writing every day for the last month. You just need to break down your goals even further.
There's this idea of tiny goals—if you're not familiar with it, it's pretty easy to understand. Instead of setting goals that feel too big and are overwhelming, you set a much smaller goal. Even a reasonable goal might feel daunting so you set an EVEN SMALLER goal. Instead of meditating for twenty minutes a day, you sit in your meditation spot for thirty seconds a day (and see if you want to do a little more). Instead of doing a five mile run, you put on your running clothes and go stand on the street for two minutes.
So instead of thinking of a reasonable writing goal, think of one that is entirely too easy. Something that feels trivial—silly to even mention. Instead of writing for thirty minutes, just write ONE SENTENCE. Or if you're feeling totally baller, do a paragraph. But the point is that you don't do something you think you SHOULD be able to accomplish. You do something that is absolutely too easy for you.
Set a goal that you can't possibly fail at.
Sit down. Knock out your one sentence. (Or one paragraph. Or five minutes. Or whatever.)
Of course, once you're there and you've done a sentence, you might want to just do one more, but you don't have to. You're done. And you have one sentence more than you had before. And maybe the next day, you make it two sentences because one was so darned easy.
Sometimes a full goal is daunting. Sometimes we just need to get ourselves into position and inertia will start to carry us forward. Sometimes we need to put one in the wins column and take a victory lap instead of feeling like a failure. Don't be afraid to set the smallest of goals, knock them out, and then see where you are.