In the last couple of months, I have sadly fallen off of several bandwagons: the blogging bandwagon, the exercise bandwagon, the music practice bandwagon, lately the vegetarian diet bandwagon. I say “sadly” because these are all things I would have liked to maintain–and because it is easier to maintain a habit than to begin one.
I have also gotten back on, possibly, the most important bandwagon of all (for me, anyhow) which is writing every day. I’ve been writing 3000 to 5000 words every weekday on my new WIP, Drakemaster (for those of you keeping track, this is my Chinese epic historical fantasy). I was incredibly busy over the summer, between leading adventure camps and attending conventions–all very worthwhile and enjoyable things–so I didn’t get any writing done. Now, I did not go from 0 to 5000 words the next day, I had to ramp back up to it with a few hundred, then a thousand, then two thousand (I always picture a freight train picking up speed) I am very happy to be riding this particular bandwagon again, but still thinking about those other ones that have been left behind.
How to get back up? The key is persistence. It’s all too easy to fall off–or, more often, to be knocked off any given habit you’re trying to maintain. You want to eat a particular way, then you get invited to a wedding, and, well, you can’t just ignore wedding cake, right? you want to exercise daily or even every-other-day, then you get sick or injured, and you just can’t make it for a few days. Or, worst of all, Life Happens. Kids, family, work obligations, blackouts, car troubles–the list of reasons to stop is pretty much endless.
But you’ve gotta get back up again. You will not reach your goals (whether fitness, career, financial or creative) without regular practice, without building and maintaining the habit of getting it done. Someday, you just begin again. You screw up your courage, renew your gym membership or humble yourself before your writing workshop and make a new commitment. Yep, it’s hard to do this if you’ve let things slide. You’re probably going to do fewer reps on the Nautilus this time around. You’re going to start with fewer words on your daily count. You’re going to be tempted by the goodies when you stop off at your favorite bookstore that happens to have a cafe. . .
Here is the thing to remember: Life is a series of choices. All the time, every time. Sometimes, you don’t have the leeway to make a different choice: you have to try your sister’s cassarole, even if it blows your diet. Next time the choice returns to you, pick the right one. Next time you can choose to watch tv or write–choose to write. Next time you can choose between a long lunch break, and taking a walk–choose the walk.
It’s hard to keep making the right choice–and it’s easy to think, if you’ve made the wrong choice a few times in a row, that it’s not worth the struggle to get going again. How will you feel if you never reach your goals? If you’re willing to just give up, go for it. If you’re going to kick yourself later, then take a step now. Even a tiny one. Tomorrow, make a bigger one, the day after, a bigger one yet–
The more often you make the best choice, the more you can maintain those habits that will get you moving the right direction, and you’ll find yourself back on the bandwagon in no time. For some more specific advice and ideas about self-motivating, check out the work of Luc Reid, author and instigator of The Willpower engine (and the Willpower Engine for Writers free e-book–cheap at twice the price).
I can’t guarantee that I’ll stay on the blogging bandwagon, but I can guarantee that, next time I fall off, I’ll make the choice to get back on. See you next week!