Creating the Habit of Showing up for your Writing

If you follow the Writers In The Storm posts and comments, then you’re familiar with today’s guest blogger. Joel D Canfield gives WITS readers a treat with a video blog, discussing why, sometimes cleaning the bathroom is more inviting than  writing.

And what you can do about that.

Go for it, Joel!

Bio
JoelDCanfield256x413rJoel D Canfield is a writer. His favorite question is “Why?” Far too often the answer is “Fear.” He’s published 9 business books and 1 mystery. He’s writing 8 more mysteries to restore balance to the universe. (He’s also written over 150 songs, so the mysteries have some catching up to do.) He thinks everyone should create art, including you. He accepts that online bios are usually written in the third person. You can read him in the first person (though not omniscient) at http://JoelDCanfield.com/

This entry was posted in Blogging Guests, Miscellaneous and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

46 Responses to Creating the Habit of Showing up for your Writing

  1. Great post! Thanks!

  2. Laura Drake says:

    Hey Joel, how cool is it that I comment on YOUR blog! Great job – this is WITS inaugural Vlog!
    You’ll snatch us into the current century yet…

    Great job – loved it!

  3. So true, Joel. It’s that old adage of butt in chair. These days when that old demon avoidance/avoidance rears her ugly head, I trick her by writing something silly. Or I do a post for my blog, write a letter to myself or anything that cranks up the old gray cells🙂

    This is a grea addition to WITS … can we look forward to vlogs from all of you ??

    • Silliness rules! I’m planning a follow-up to this video about specific ways to reduce the fear that makes us go clean the bathroom instead of write. One of those fears is that we’ll write something silly. So, from the department of “shining a flashlight on scary things,” go write something silly! If you KNOW it’s going to be nonsense, it’s hard for Fear to call up her master Resistance.

      Though I could easily fall into the trap of worrying that what I write might not be silly enough.

    • Laura Drake says:

      Oh Florence, NO one wants to see that! Of me, anyway…
      And no, there’s no way I’d wear the cheerleading skirt – thanks to Jenny’s homemade almond rocha, the danged zipper has less chance of closing than ever!

      • Homemade almond rocha is an excellent reward for writing sessions.

        I, too, will NOT be wearing a skirt, cheerleading or otherwise. (A kilt, now, might be a different matter.)

      • No way, biker chick. You came out of the closet at Nationals … not to mention those jazzy clothes you wore !! Go thee to the video and do one of your motivational posts … like telling us to move our asses before you kick them🙂

  4. Couldn’t get this to play on my phone (I read while commuting). Wished it was a written post, but I’ll watch it over the weekend.

    • Ah; I should check the conversion at YouTube. It should play on any device. Though I’m with you quite often: I really prefer reading to watching, when I’m on the receiving end.

  5. What a great post! I can so relate. The five minutes of doing nothing is such a powerful idea. I’m going to quit reading blogs and do it. Now! Thanks.

    • Carol, would you please let us know how it goes? Even with solid psychology behind these writing-habit tools, there’s still an element of experimentation here. I’d love to hear the results of your own personal experiment.

  6. Sharlarae says:

    Joel, so great to have a regular commenter here at WITS blog or should I say vlog with us! You’ve mad a great point about making writing a habit too. I don’t think I’ve heard this arguing point before and it totally makes sense. Thanks.

    • Since you asked (“should I say vlog”) I’ll answer: ewwww, what an awful word (though of course my grandmother would have forbidden the use of awful, so maybe it’s genetic.)

      I’ve fallen in love with this corner of the Mad Writing Universe so I’m delighted I can give something back to y’all.

  7. C. K. Crouch says:

    What a great vlog although it is hard when you have to put on the headphones to hear it lol. I’d developed the habit of writing a bit and wandering off then writing and wandering off. Now I stay with it until I’m unable to focus then I wander off. Before I’d write a few words go play a game come back a few more words. Now I’m ignoring the games until I can’t focus and need a break. But i’m working on revisions too.

    • It’s a rare thing when someone thinks I’m too QUIET.

      Take notes on your “wandering off” and see if it’s avoidance, or perhaps recharging. Not all non-writing is counter-productive. Sometimes, wandering off is exactly the right thing.

      Playing games though, I’m sad to tell myself (but you can eavesdrop) is usually plain old avoidance, with a side of brain drain.

      As for sticking with it, brain science says that 90 minutes is about all the sustained “flow” we can benefit from. So if you suddenly discover you’ve been pounding it for over an hour, feel free to take a break. It’ll actually be better than pushing more.

  8. marsharwest says:

    Not a fan of change. I know it’s necessary, but still . . . As a former speech and theatre person, I should prefer the “Vlog” format, but I don’t. I usually refer to the mesage a couple of times as I’m writing my response. I can’t do that with this format. It takes longer to get through listening (because speaking is slower than reading if it’s done well, and Joel, I liked your presentation style) to the mesage than if I just read the printed words. That’s my two cents on this new medium.
    As to your mesage, I laughed as you described exactly how I move through my day–attention challenged, pinging from one thing to another. Also, I can assure you I’d never sit still for 5 minutes doing nothing, definitely I’d be writing, and you rasied the ante with the dark chocolate! As long as I keep my rear in the chair, I do pretty well . . . .except for all these blogs I feel compelled to comment on. LOL
    Working on getting ready to start my own blog, so I’m off to write a couple of potential posts.

    • Marsha, at times like this I feel like a cheater. I also prefer reading to watching. At the same time, I know that video sometimes does a better job of conveying the emotion behind the message.

      Since I’m married to my own personal transcriptionist, I try to eventually get my videos transcribed, and get the best of both worlds.

      What I’d be interested in is how long you need the dark chocolate to feel rewarded. After a while, the routine becomes the reward, which is when it becomes a habit. Intrinsic rewards like the joy of creation are so much more powerful than extrinsic rewards like chocolate.

      Though, if you reward yourself for creating a new writing habit by having some chocolate, that works, too.

      • Laura Drake says:

        And why is chocolate so easy a habit to get into, and not dieting? That sucks. Sorry for interjecting, Random thought.

        • I’ll pretend to be serious for a moment: the cue | routine | reward cycle is designed to signal our brain (using the reward) that the routine was valuable (subjective word indeed) and to, therefore, catalog the cue.

          The chocolate has an intrinsic reward. It requires no reward, because the routine is the reward. So it has two benefits: this “rewardless” shortcut, and the immense immediate value of the reward.

          Wanna exercise more? Make it a habit — NOT misery. Five minutes a day is better than zero minutes a day, no matter what you planned.

          Try this: pick a cue you know happens every day at some convenient time. (You pick up the kids from school, for instance. Something already in your schedule.) Immediately after the cue, go outside and walk for 5 minutes. Come home, and eat a small piece of chocolate.

          Here’s where everyone freaks out. “Eat chocolate!?! Doesn’t that negate the value of the exercise?” But guess what: we’re not talking about EXERCISE, we’re talking about HABIT. Create a habit, and it will become its own reward, and you’ll walk more and eat chocolate less.

          Yeah, you and me both.

  9. I love the idea that writing time should be writing time without the distractions of anything else. I try to block off a stretch of time every day when I close out my browser, close out email, turn the volume down on the phone (although I have a young child so I’ll always look when the phone rings; but unless it’s the school I don’t answer). That’s my time to write – on the WIP or a blog, to brainstorm new ideas, or even just read something related to writing.

    • Stephen King says we all need a door we can close. Shutting all the doors, physical, electronic, and metaphorical to allow yourself to write is a gift I envy a wee bit.

      I like how Rosanne Bane (in “Around the Writer’s Block”) calls it Product Time instead of writing time. If it’s about moving our writing forward, whether it’s reading, daydreaming, research, or actual pen to paper. it’s all about what we’re trying to produce, thus, Product Time.

      My biggest need is for what she calls Process Time: the free play with the express intention NOT to create something, which frees our minds to process all the data we’ve input, and build better stronger more creative connections; to grow our brain rather than produce something.

  10. Wow! Did I need this! I’ve got the cleanest bathrooms on Canada’s west coast… I’m going to give this a try. I thought I had too much on my plate today to work on the manuscript, but I’m sure there’s five minutes in there.

    • You can imagine the confusion when people see our sparkling loo and discover it was I, not Best Beloved, who shined it up.

      Yes, Charlotte, there’s 5 minutes somewhere. Our greatest sabotage when it comes to habits is assuming we need to go big or go home. Pshaw! Nonsense! Balderdash!

  11. Pam Blance says:

    Oh did I need this. I’m no housewife and love doors and closets to hide things in but when I do get the urge to clean I am usually ‘away with the faeries’ as that is when I write in my head. So now I have to get in the habit or transferring it to the written word. I like the chocolate deal. I’d better stock up as I see lots of five minute sessions coming on. Very good ‘Vlog”. If you had trouble hearing just press the CC button for closed captioning.

    • Away with the faeries is good time, Pam. We all need that to restock our creative closets and allow some mental house-cleaning to take care of itself.

      But if we get up from real live writing time to go dust the canned goods, we’re in trouble.

      Consider small individually wrapped chocolates. It’s easier to stop when you have to unwrap each one. I find it difficult to eat part of a larger bar (just like I firmly believe that when a bottle of wine is opened, it starts to die and must be drunk now, before it goes bad.)

      As for the closed captioning, I’d only recommend that if you want a good laugh (though I must say, it’s a REALLY good laugh.) You’d think a geek like me would have built in captioning so I didn’t appear to be introducing myself as “julie.”

  12. Pam Blance says:

    Joel, I use Closed captioning because I’m hard of hearing. But your right ; I sometimes need an interpreter. My husband and I get a good laugh at the news some days. You would think by now in this age of technology they could perfect the captioning. It can be frustrating “Julie”

    • Great; now I have a nickname😉

      I’m glad you pointed it out, Pam, because I’ve already downloaded the flawed but funny closed caption file, and Best Beloved is going to go through and correct it. So before long, there’ll be a nifty new (and correct) caption file, and I’ll have one more way I can provide the best info for my readers and watchers.

  13. Pam Blance says:

    Thanks Julie, I’ll look forward to that. LOL

  14. Pingback: Creating the Habit of Showing up for your Writing | Hunted & Gathered | Scoop.it

  15. This was wonderful. I reblogged.

  16. timkeen40 says:

    Great video and great advice.

    Tim

  17. Tanya Cienfuegos says:

    thanks for the great advice. I need to show this to the other ladies in the Ladies of Wrimo facebook group.

  18. tammyrenzi says:

    So glad you visited Shanna’s site and directed me to your video. Now, I currently live in Houston, but as a former Upstate New Yorker, my ears perked up when I heard Poughkeepsie! Don’t hear that every day.

    I think this is valuable and look forward to passing it on to others as well! Thank you, Joel.

    • Glad you liked it, Tammy. (Poughkeepsie was an old Bugs Bunny joke I never let go of; Mel Blanc apparently loved the sound of the name.)

      Shanna has a good group of people. Glad to connect in these outward spirals of connection.

  19. Gilliad Stern says:

    Very good post, I’ll have to start his process. It’s easy to see how things can get out of hand if you don’t try to work through the problems and do the task laid out before you.

    • I’d love to hear how it works for you, Gilliad. I’m working on a whole series of methods to gently but firmly help writers help themselves to keep forward momentum.

Comments are closed.