Imagine: It’s race day, and you’re out there warming up with all the other marathoners. You’re nervous but excited, and so happy to finally be out here! This is it! The day you’ve been waiting for! You get to start running!
And try out your brand new running shoes! They’re the BEST running shoes EVER!
You jog on the spot with all the other runners, waiting for the starting pistol.
You notice briefly that you’re the only one with new running shoes. A moment of doubt clouds your mind — wait, did everybody else really train for this? You thought they were kidding when they told you to break the shoes in at home before you went out running.
And to build up to the 42 kilometres a little bit at a time.
But the moment soon passes and you’re just excited to have new shoes! And hey, you were a great runner in high school, so you should be able to handle a marathon without running around the block first, right?
You jump at the crack of the starting pistol, momentarily confused. But then you realize everyone else is moving, so you take off like a bat outta hell and soon you’re WAY ahead of the pack! You think, I’m gonna win this thing!
Then you begin to notice you’re slowing down and everyone is passing you, and you’ve only run one kilometre. You sure could use a break — where’s that first water station?
It’s another three kilometres, and by the time you get there, you can hardly breathe, your legs are getting heavier with every step, your feet are screaming with blisters on both heels, and you’re so far behind the pack you can’t even see them anymore.
This is completely ridiculous, right?
Yet this is exactly what so many of us expect of ourselves when we sit down to write, because we write only when we have to. Sure, we’re out of practice, but we figure we can just sit down at the computer and bang out an email or a blog post or website content, just like that.
Next thing we know, we’re stuck. And we wonder why.
Or we’re rewriting the same sentence over and over and over again, hyperfocusing on the exact wording we want, even though we may not even be keeping that sentence in the final version. We don’t even know we’re doing it, but when we look up an hour has gone by and we’re no further ahead.
Surely there’s a better way!
Actually, yes. There is a better way.
It’s the same as it is for running: practice.
But how do you practise writing?
Again, the same way you practise running: you start small and build on it.
Just five minutes a day, two or three times a week, works wonders. You can build up to ten minutes, maybe fifteen, twenty minutes, or you can just stick to five.
The trick is to start so small it's easy to succeed. So small that you actually can do it regularly, because it doesn’t take a huge chunk out of your day.
What do you write for that five minutes a day (or even just two minutes)? Whatever flakes off your brain, in the moment. Just follow your mind. (For more info and a free downloadable guide about that, click here.)
When we write regularly, it becomes easier to come up with the words that go with our ideas.
We get used to just following the mind wherever it leads us, writing down whatever arises, and we can use the same technique for a first draft or for whenever we get stuck.
We’ve taken the time to run around the block before we try to run that marathon. We've broken in those new running shoes.
No more blisters.