“All human actions have one or more of these seven causes: chance, nature, compulsions, habit, reason, passion, desire.” -Aristotle
“How did your writing go today?”
My blood runs cold. That question. That dreaded question.
It is inevitable. Everyday I have to face it. That question. Uttered from my husband’s lips.
“How did your writing go today?”
Hmmm….how to answer? Let’s see…. well….I ate our entire cupboard full of chocolate, I organized the nooks and crannies of my closet, and I discovered how long I could sit on the couch and think of absolutely nothing at all…..
“Fine. It went fine.”
Never have I better related to the attitude behind the scripture that Paul wrote in Romans 7:15, talking about his struggle with sin, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”
It’s obvious isn’t it? If you hate what you are doing, why don’t you just stop doing it? If you REALLY wanted to do something, you would do it….right?
I have come to learn that it is more complicated than that. I mean…who would have thought that the human psyche, the intricate, intangible interplay of soul, body, and mind that creates the person of you is sometimes hard to understand? Weird……
For months I avoided that question, dreading the other question the harder question that loomed over me.
“Why aren’t you writing?”
Not that I didn’t want to know the answer to it, trust me, I wanted that answer more than anything. I just couldn’t think about it. It was as if there was a wall in my brain, a fuzzy, blank space that appeared whenever I started to ask it.
So I did the only natural thing.
I avoided it completely.
I mean, motivation to write had to strike at some point didn’t it?
Nope. Nope. And……nope.
So after another long night of tears (which always struck at 11PM when I was all tucked into bed, and my husband was forced out of near sleep so that I could pour my heart out to him), when he finally asked me an even harder question.
“If you can never get yourself to write, should you should give up writing and do something else instead?”
First, let me clarify. My husband was not encouraging me to quit. He is and has always been my biggest supporter, and believer (besides my mom of course), and has never, for once, doubted that there was purpose and destiny to my writing.
He was listening to my heart and asked the HARD question that he found there.
“Why am I not writing?” And if I am not willing to even try to answer that question, how can I ever hope to accomplish the dream that I hold so dear?
His question drew a line in front of me. I had two choices: change or quit.
I chose change.
It came down to the seven causes of human action that I cited from Aristotle at the beginning of this post. What was driving my actions? Chance, nature, compulsions, habit, reason, passion, or desire?
I was letting chance determine my writing. If I did not feel the desire to write…if the muse did not strike my atop my head with a steel bat…..I did not write. And if you are like me, I hardly ever actually desire to do things that are hard. I much prefer the easy, slightly more lazy route.
My writing needed to become something else. Something that wasn’t determine by how I felt. It needed to become a habit.
The next morning I woke up, entirely sure that I needed to make my writing a habit, but entirely unsure how I was supposed to go about it….but later that morning, I opened my email to find an invitation to attend an online webinar “How to Start a Daily Writing Habit”, by Jeff Goins*.
**I can only attribute this timely occurrence to the Holy Spirit. He heard my prayer and gave me an answer.**
In this webinar, Jeff Goins taught that to form a habit, you needed to write DAILY! That meant, scheduling it into your EVERY DAY, same time, same place, NO MATTER WHAT. No matter how early, how inconvenient, or how uncomfortable.
It doesn’t matter how much I write, only that I do. Every day.
So…up at 6AM I rose. And let me tell you something….it worked!
Not only have I written continuously, but the quality of what I have written has improved tremendously.
So now I ask you the hard question, the one that may be stirring in your heart as it did mine, the one that you may be avoiding and do not know how to ask yourself:
“Why are you not doing what you want to do? What is driving what you do instead?”
Is it compulsion? An obsessive need that you cannot shake until it is accomplished?
Is it chance? You are just waiting for the perfect moment that never seems to come?
Is it passion or desire? Reason or habit?
Don’t let shame of your actions or reasons for those actions keep you from answering this question. Trust me, from personal experience, that will only chain you more tightly to your misery.
Do you need habit (designed, purposeful practice of desired action and growth) as badly as I do?
Maybe it is time you started getting up a little earlier, sacrificing your comforts a little more, and finally do what you ACTUALLY DESIRE to do.
*Jeff Goins website – https://goinswriter.com/hello/