Why you don’t write more
After making decisions all day and evening, as they say in sports, “you’ve left it all out on the field.” What got left there is connected to your brain’s executive function — a set of mental processes we use for planning, organizing and strategizing, managing time and space, and for paying attention to and remembering details.
If you’ve been planning, organizing, and strategizing all day, your executive function is getting a workout. When that workout is strenuous or prolonged, your executive function gets tuckered out and to save energy it starts discarding information it thinks you don’t need, such as any motivation (or prompt to remember) to write that blog post or chapter installment.
Why the answer will always be no
Since writing a book is a strategic decision whose impact will occur in the future, if your executive function is cached out, the answer to the internal query, “Am I really going to write this now?” is always going to be “No.”
If you ask that question after a particularly long, intellectually demanding day, all you may get back is fluttering red, white, and blue, the National Anthem, or the TV test pattern.
It’s all in the timing
The good news is you can manage around this by making writing the very first thing you do in the morning. By writing first thing, your ability to decide to invest effort in the future is at its peak. For this ritual to be sustainable, however, you must set a hard limit on how much time you will spend writing. For most executives, that limit should not exceed 30-minutes per day.
Write for a bit then quit
So whether you decide to write for 15, 20 or 30-minutes, when the timer dings, close the document, forget about writing anymore, and get on with your day. IMPORTANT: Do not, under any circumstances, continue writing past the alarm. By taking this discipline, you will train your muse to show up at the appointed time to deliver its wisdom to the page.
Note: This works. It was this advice, given to me by NYC-based book coach Jerry Mundis, that enabled me to get my first novel written, while working full-time in technology. (You’re welcome.)
When it comes to writing consistently, and accomplishing long term written goals, timing really is everything.