Falling off the Wagon

We all know how easy it is to drop a routine. It’s like when New Year’s rolls around and you swear you’ll go to the gym and get back in shape. So you go for maybe a week or two, then you skip a day. Then you skip two days. Then a week, a month, and suddenly you’re sitting on the couch watching reruns of Kitchen Nightmares and repeating the same old “I’ll do it later…”

I’ve been so overwhelmed with my job and community theater commitments lately that, unfortunately, my reading and writing routines have suffered. I suppose it also doesn’t help that I’ve been stuck reading A Game of Thrones for the past three weeks and I just can’t seem to get into it. I know it gets good later, but I can only take so much politics and exposition at a time.

Fortunately, it doesn’t take a huge time sink to establish a routine. And reading and writing come so naturally that incorporating them into a daily routine is as easy as remembering to eat breakfast. And foregoing either practice is likely to make you feel empty and disappointed for the rest of the day. As Harvey Chapman says on “Overcoming Writers’ Block”

If you set yourself large daily targets, you will fail to start hitting them sooner or later and the whole project will come to a crashing halt.

If you vow to spend just 30 minutes in your writing room every day, no matter how few words you produce, the odds are that your inner-muse will thrive. And if you still only manage a single paragraph? So what?

30 minutes a day is manageable for most people. Even I could handle 30 minutes. And that’s all it takes to get started again. Start with that small, easy goal. That 30 minutes, those 10 push-ups, whatever it is you want. Then as those goals get easier to achieve, raise the bar. Keep at it and you’re writing novels or running marathons. I constantly have to remind myself that falling off the wagon is not the end of the world. After all, as Thomas Wayne says in Batman Begins:

And why do we fall, Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.

Now I just have to do it.

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