If you’re a student, taking up a new hobby once the summer starts may seem like a great idea. You’re likely not quite as busy, and as the temperature increases, so does your itch for change. For me, this resulted in taking up a gymnastics class, starting a blog, trying to do a writing exercise every day, and changing my diet. But as many may discover once they begin their new hobby or life change, soon the desire to persist fades. Because let’s face it, keeping up with the same routine is hard.
This isn’t to say that schedules aren’t helpful to lots of people. They are. They are the reason that I leave my house to try again at handstands and swing on bars once a week for an hour and a half. But when it comes to writing or home workouts, I tend to treat them as if it’s a “when-I-feel-like-it” ordeal. I write, but only when I’m inspired. I do push-ups, but only when I have that adrenaline rush to get them done.
The thing about writing in particular is that, unlike having little athletic aptitude, I’ve always been writing. But my approach to it has been changing. Before, writing has meant scribbling down some poems, and leaving them to the side in the depths of my notebooks or my laptop where they are safe, away from prying eyes. I might have even shared a few with friends and family over time, or in my poetry workshop class in university. I also journal (when I feel like it), but that’s still only viewed by me. Do you see the problem? My writing has been overall inconsistent and inspiration-driven. This has not been working. So now, I’m taking a new approach.
When I was attending a creative writing workshop in my undergrad, I produced more poetry in one semester than I had over the previous 2 years. They weren’t all good poems, but none were bad, and I was able to get consistent (and supportive) feedback on my writing that was outside myself and my family, since we shared our poems with our professor and classmates. I can confidently attribute my increase in writing to my professor giving us weekly writing assignments – basically, making us write consistently. I didn’t always feel like writing when I did it, but I wrote.
This is why I started this blog in the first place; to write consistently. I had told myself I would post once every two weeks because it seemed doable. Most blog writers seem to recommend posting a couple of times a week to gain a better following. I figured that once every two weeks would be give me some wiggle room. However, I had two problems: 1) I didn’t really tell anyone about this plan, and 2) It’s really easy to make an excuse to not write simply because an idea didn’t seem “good” enough, especially if writing isn’t at the forefront of my mind. Biweekly writing gave me enough time to get into my own head and stay there. This time, I’m also making my goal more public by posting about it here: I will be posting a blog post once a week. Some may not be longer than a paragraph, but there will be a blog post. If I don’t post, feel free to nag me until I do.
Earlier I had mentioned schedules, and that it’s hard to stick to a routine. This is especially true for me. I had written down an organized daily routine for me to follow, hour-by-hour thinking I could follow it. However, I’ve realized quickly that my brain doesn’t work that way, at least not yet. Setting small but frequent, attainable goals for myself has seemed to work better. Expecting too much of yourself at once never works out well (see my last post: “You don’t have to function at 100%”).
I think it’s important to mention that consistent work does not mean it needs to be monotonous.Who said that practice needed to be boring? Change up the things you do! There are different forms of writing, different forms of creating, different techniques to improve your skill.
Also – specifically for those who are creating things – maintaining consistency can help deal with the self-doubt in your head. When relying on inspiration to create, you might be concerned what you create isn’t ‘good’ enough to finish or publish, and so you set it aside and let the dust collect. But if you produce work consistently, your focus shifts from ‘I can’t finish this, this is terrible’ to ‘Yes, I finished this piece of work. Now how can I improve it?’. You will have at least a draft of your piece of work. This is of course easier said than done, and I struggle with applying it daily. But the idea is still solid.
If you have tips or suggestions of how to maintain consistency, feel free to comment below. Prayer will never be discouraged.